State College superintendent responds to reports of bullying after death of eighth-grade student


State College Area School District’s superintendent updated families Thursday after the death of a Park Forest Middle School student, writing that reports of bullying are being investigated but evidence that a person or incident are responsible has not been found.

Eighth-grader Abby Smith died on Sunday, and in the days since 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 on Thursday afternoon, Superintendent Curtis Johnson said that since Sunday, the district has received numerous communications and Safe2Say reports that singled out individuals for bullying. Abby’s family was not aware of her being bullied and do not believe it was the reason for her death by suicide, Johnson wrote.

SCASD administration and law enforcement agencies are still investigating.

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

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

A percussionist in the Park Forest Middle School band, Abby was looking forward to joining the marching band and taking culinary classes at State High, according to her obituary. She loved to craft with her mother and learned to cook with her father. She was preparing to be a leader in training at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center this summer, the camp she had attended since she was four.

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

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

“My hope is this information helps create more understanding, and our conversations turn to remembering Abby as the nurturing and loving young woman she was,” Johnson wrote. “In the coming days, let’s focus on helping each other and caring for one another.”

Additional mental health support professionals were brought in to help students at Park Forest Middle School and classrooms throughout the district on Monday. Counselors will continue to be available to students as needed, Johnson wrote.

SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 988

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

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



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