Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Memorial for Terrell seventh grader turned into heated anti-bullying protest
Friends and family said she was punched in the stomach before falling into a coma.
TERRELL Over 200 students and parents gathered outside of Furlough Middle School Monday to remember Zusette Moreno and protest her death on Nov. 30, which her family and friends claim was likely caused by bullying.
According to mother of the girl, Blanca Primero, through an interpreter, Zusette was assaulted in the girls’ bathroom at the school last Tuesday by classmates. The girls grabbed her neck, shoved her head against the wall and punched her in the stomach.
Primero explained that Zusette then called to be picked up from school and her aunt, Lipita Primero, picked her up. The mother said she wasn’t told of the attack until after Zusette had left the school campus with her aunt. The girl was rushed to a hospital, lapsed into a coma and died last Friday on her 13th birthday.
Her mother filed a police report Saturday, hired an attorney and said she now wants answers.
Students left flowers, stuffed animals and notes in honor of Zusette but the gathering quickly turned into a protest against bullying. Students held signs encouraging fellow students to stop bullying.
Dozens of students and parents came forward to share stories and demand change.
Zusette’s friend and fellow seventh-grader Amelia Miramontes told CBS-11 TV that bullying is a big problem at school and that she’s been a victim, too. She said when she tried to help a friend who was being bullied she was threatened too.
“I almost don’t want to come to school anymore,” she explained.
Seventh grader Anna Gatica told The Dallas Morning News that she’s also been bullied there and screamed at a teacher when she was asked to back away from the school while protesting.
“I just want justice, and screaming at the people is the only way they’ll listen to us,” she said.
Hope Veech told CBS-11 TV that her daughter was bullied over her lunch food, and now the 12-year-old doesn’t want to go to school.
“I can’t help but think this could have been my daughter,” said Veech with tears in her eyes. “It should not have happened. Something needs to be done.”
Zusette’s mother attended the memorial and rally and said she was overwhelmed by all the support.
“I knew she wasn’t the only girl being bullied,” she said. “There are other kids. I hope all of this protesting will work.”
The Terrell school district said there have been “numerous unsubstantiated rumors” surrounding the girl’s death but promises that it would work with police, families and students to “investigate each allegation.”
It called Zusette’s death “a terrible tragedy for the family, school district, the City of Terrell, and the entire community,” adding, “Our thoughts continue to go out to the family and community.”
TISD Superintendent Kelly Rodgers, School Board President Dena Risinger, and other TISD officials went to the Primero household Sunday to offer their condolences to the family but were met by nearly 40 friends and family members protesting Moreno’s death.
The group was chanting, “We want justice,” and they blocked the officials’ vehicles from moving. Police were called in and disbursed the crowd.
According to a statement released by the Terrell ISD, a preliminary report from the Dallas County Medical Examiner found no signs of trauma or assault, but it will take approximately eight weeks until the final report is issued to learn the actual cause of death.
Grief counselors were on hand Monday and will be available all week at the school to assist students.
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