A fifth grader from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School committed suicide at her home on East 27th Street. Some of her family members claim she was bullied at the school which prompted her to take her own life.
11-year-old Samara Moreno committed suicide on Friday, Dec. 14, according to school and municipal officials. Police received a call at about 6 p.m. that a young girl had hung herself at her house on East 27th Street between Park and 17th Avenue.
Police director Jerry Speziale and school district spokesman Paul Brubaker referred requests for comment to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office which is investigating the incident. A call to Passaic County prosecutor Camelia Valdes’ office was transferred to chief assistant prosecutor Jason Statuto.
Statuto did not respond to a request for comment last Friday.
“I heard an ambulance came and then a black truck came and took the body,” said Kevin Ramos, who lives across the street from the house. “I heard she told the school twice that they were bullying her and they didn’t do anything.”
A woman, who identified the girl as her niece, wrote on social media, that the 11-year-old “took her life because of being bullied in school just because she didn’t have the same color skin or that she couldn’t talk proper English or didn’t have all the latest things.”
Moreno was brought to the U.S. in 2014. She was born in El Salvador, according to her obituary.
Some school board members questioned district administrators about the incident. They were told neither the student nor her parents ever reported a case of bullying to the school or the district.
The school system allows students and parents to report incidents of bullying to the school or directly to the district.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School had six reported cases of bullying in the 2018-19 school year, according to school officials.
On Friday, the day she took her own life, there was an incident at the school, where she intervened in a dispute between a girl, her friend, and a boy in her classroom, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the incident. She and another student were given detention as a result.
No one answered the door at the house on East 27th Street this past Saturday morning.
School officials made grief counselors available to the students after the suicide. Last Thursday, superintendent Eileen Shafer held a meeting with parents at the school. Fewer than a dozen parents attended the meeting.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.