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State College superintendent responds to reports of bullying after death of eighth grader

The State College Area School District’s superintendent informed families Thursday after the death of a Park Forest Middle School student, writing that reports of bullying were under investigation but that evidence that a person or an incident was responsible had not been found.

Eighth grader Abby Smith died Sunday and since then the State College community has mourned the death of a girl described as a “kind, bright young woman who brightened the lives of those around her.”

In a letter to families Thursday afternoon, Superintendent Curtis Johnson said that since Sunday, the district has received numerous communications and Safe2Say reports pointing the finger at individuals being bullied. Abby’s family was not aware that she had been bullied and does not believe that was the reason for her death by suicide, Johnson wrote.

SCASD administration and law enforcement are still investigating.

“At this time, we have found no evidence that any person or incident is responsible,” Johnson wrote. “Additionally, we have not received any Safe2Say reports beforehand.”

Abby, an eighth-grader at Park Forest Middle School, has two siblings in the district. A Meal Train donation page was set up for the Smith family and raised $48,650 as of Thursday.

A percussionist in the Park Forest Middle School band, Abby looked forward to joining the marching band and taking cooking classes at State High, according to her obituary. She loved crafting with her mother and learned to cook from her father. She was preparing this summer to become a counselor-in-training at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, the camp she had attended since she was four years old.

“Abby was a loving, creative, fiercely protective and determined old soul with a large group of family and friends who loved her immensely,” her obituary read.

The district has asked families not to spread misinformation and parents to talk with students about the spread of rumors. Any credible information should be reported to the district or through Safe2Say, the anonymous school safety reporting system.

“I hope this information helps create a better understanding and that our conversations turn to remembering Abby as the caring and loving young woman she was,” Johnson wrote. “In the coming days, let’s focus on helping each other and taking care of each other. »

On Monday, additional mental health support professionals were brought in to help students at Park Forest Middle School and district classrooms. Advisors will continue to be available to students as needed, Johnson wrote.

SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES

National lifeline for suicide prevention: 1-800-273-8255 988

Suicide and crisis lifeline: Call or text 988 or chat at 988Lifeline.org

Community Resource Center: Visit 2100 E. College Ave., 24/7.

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