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Hundreds of students walkout of North Side Middle School in protest of district’s handle on bullying

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 7:56 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - Hundreds of North Side Middle School students walked out in protest of the district’s handle on bullying Tuesday.

This comes after 12-year-old Rio Allred, a former NSMS student, committed suicide last week following heartbreaking claims that she was bullied by several of her classmates.

Many students saying the bullying behavior often going unchecked by their own school.

“This should have never happened to Rio in the first place. The school system failed Rio. They failed us,” 7th grade student Corgan Hammond says. “This could have been prevented so many times over but it wasn’t and that is unforgivable! They knew what was going on. Elkhart Community Schools knew what was happening to Rio Allred and they did nothing. That will never be forgotten!”

Joining students were dozens of parents holding their own posters in support of Rio just eight days after she took her own life.

Rio reportedly suffered from alopecia, an autoimmune disease that made her hair fall out.

After starting off the school year wearing a wig, Rio’s mother, Nicole Ball, told 16 News Now last week that students began ripping it off Rio’s head. Ball also claims her daughter was smacked upside the head in front of the entire class for not having any hair.

“Rio has brought together an army and that army stands for you!” Rio’s grandfather told students who participated in the walkout.

Other students like Rio’s best friend, Lilly Dolph, says despite how heartbroken she is, she is happy to see the support for Rio.

“I feel proud there are so many people here sticking up for my best friend and proud that everybody is celebrating the fact that we will win this war,” Dolph says.

Tim Miller, a teacher at North Side Middle School, says he taught Rio in his College & Career class last semester. When asked about losing Rio, Miller took a deep breathe.

“I think we all failed Rio in some way. We need kids to say to tell us to tell teachers and administration we’re not doing enough to protect these people from getting bullied,” Miller says.

In case it was not already clear, the message from many students and parents was found on dozens of posters denouncing the danger behind bullying, and demanding justice for Rio Allred.

School officials are holding an Elkhart School Board meeting at Elkhart High School Tuesday evening that is expected to address some of the concerns from parents and students.

A GoFundMe page has been setup for anyone who like to donate and support the family of Rio Allred.

In effort to continue the fight against bullying, family members have created a nonprofit organization in honor of Rio called Rio’s Rainbows.

To review Elkhart Community Schools’ Bullying Policy, click here.

Anyone struggling with bullying, depression, or experiencing suicidal thoughts, is encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.

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