A mother blames bullies at Pen Argyl School District for her daughter’s suicide

Superintendent says suicide victim never reported being bullied

Author: , WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published: May 14 2014 09:26:34 AM EDT
Robin Zotynia, mother of suicide victim at school board meeting

A mother whose daughter committed suicide in February blamed the Pen Argyl Area School District Tuesday night for not cracking down on school bullies, whom she claimed drove her daughter into a state of deep depression and ultimately the decision to shoot herself.

“I feel I was failed and my daughter was failed,” Robin Zotynia told the school board at a meeting packed with parents and students who said they had either experienced or were aware of bullying in the school district.

Zotynia said her 14-year-old daughter, Courtney, was made fun of at school and no one wanted to sit with her at lunch, leaving her feeling, “I’ll never be good enough.”

“And that’s what she was told every day,” the mother said.

Besides the cutting remarks at school, Zotynia said her daughter was also the victim of “cyber bullying,” or Internet postings.

“Bullying is serious here,” Zotynia said. “I know no one wants to admit it.” She faulted the school district for suggesting family problems, not bullying, led to her daughter’s suicide.

Her comments and similar remarks from parents and students drew applause.

After the public spoke, Superintendent William Haberl addressed the claims and allegations point by point. He told the group the district does take bullying seriously and is required by law to document, investigate and send reports to the state about it.

So far this year, he said, there have been 25 reports of bullying and only 7 were founded to be actual cases of bullying. One student, who he said “is no longer here,” was responsible for 3 of those cases.

Haberl said “bullying” has become a “buzz word” of the 21st Century and has been inappropriately used when “sometimes kids are being mean.” Bullying, he said, refers to “really pounding on” someone who is “submissive to that.”

In the suicide of Zotynia’s daughter, Haberl said he had reviewed the file, noting that Courtney had been a frequent visitor to the guidance counselor’s office, showing up “two or three times a week for sorts of problems.” Haberl said privacy laws prevented him from discussing details of those visits.

“She reported things I can’t say,” the superintendent said. He did say, though, that Courtney “never reported to anybody that she was being bullied.”


ISIS video is counterpoint to Obama speech

52-second video plays much like a trailer for an action-adventure movie

Author: By Ed Payne CNN
Published: Sep 17 2014 07:49:40 AM EDT   Updated:  1 MIN. AGO
ISIS flag carrier
(CNN) -

The production is slick. The imagery: ominous.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is out with a new video from its Al Hayat Media Center. ISIS also produced the videos of the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker.

It took nearly a week, but this appears to be the terror group's response to President Barack Obama's speech in which he said the U.S. objective in expanded airstrikes would be to "degrade, and ultimately destroy" ISIS.

The President is expected to speak Wednesday about the U.S. strategy for combating ISIS, which also calls itself the "Islamic State."

The 52-second video plays much like a trailer for an action-adventure movie.

There are plenty of slow-motion explosions, and flames are shown engulfing American troops.

There are cameos from President George W. Bush and his "Mission Accomplished" banner, along with plenty of menacing fighters with masks over their faces, ready to execute civilians.

The producers even toss in a clip from Obama at the White House: "American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq," he says.

A lingering explosion puts an exclamation point on the whole thing.

And then the logo, fit for a Hollywood blockbuster: "Flames of War -- fighting has just begun ... Coming soon."

The video fades to black.

An ISIS magazine

Named after a town in northern Syria, Dabiq magazine publishes stories portending a battle between Islam and the West. It has portrayed Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona as "crusaders" who will "bring about the complete collapse of the modern American empire."

It also carries images evoking apocalyptic battles between the Sunni extremist group's fighters and the rest of the world, including American soldiers enveloped in flames.

ISIS is taking a page from the playbook of al Qaeda, a former ally that has praised and advocated terrorist attacks in its glossy magazine, Inspire.

But experts say the terrorist groups don't appear have the same propaganda goals.

Inspire focuses more on practical advice for terrorists planning attacks, publishing guides on how to make bombs and get them onto planes.

Dabiq is a vehicle intended to spark desire in its readers to join and fight with ISIS, said Seth Jones, a security analyst at the RAND Corporation.

Kurds say they killed an ISIS commander

The Kurdish fighting force known as the Peshmerga killed an ISIS commander during battle Tuesday, according to a senior Peshmerga official who took part in the operation.

The Peshmerga killed ISIS commander Abu Abdullah during a Kurdish operation to push ISIS farther from Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, the official said on condition of anonymity Wednesday.

In the battle, the Peshmerga reclaimed five Iraqi villages as well as a bridge along the main highway linking Irbil to Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, according to a senior Peshmerga official taking part in the operations.

The Peshmerga said the battle was meant to push ISIS fighters back toward Mosul, to the west of Irbil -- and part of the Peshmerga's larger plan to reclaim areas that ISIS claimed this year.

ISIS destroyed the bridge linking the two cities a month ago, hoping to prevent any opposing force from advancing on Mosul, but the Peshmerga said its forces went around the bridge for Tuesday's attack.

U.S. air power appeared to play a role in the offensive. Two U.S. airstrikes targeted an armored vehicle and ISIS fighting position northwest of Irbil, according to the U.S. military. That's the same area where the Peshmerga operation was under way.


On this Day

  • Civil War, Battle of Antietam painting

    Library of Congress

    On this day: September 17

    The U.S. Constitution is signed, the Civil War sees the bloodiest battle in American history, the prototype space shuttle Enterprise is unveiled, and the Camp David Accords bring peace between Egypt and Israel, all on this day.

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