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MAYS LANDING — School officials from the Atlantic County Institute of Technology say they responded appropriately to a student being bullied after an alleged rape, after an online petition circulated last week accused the school of negligence in its reaction.

“I can assure you that the administration and the faculty member named on this letter did all they could to help this student,” Superintendent Phil Guenther said.

The statement came Thursday afternoon, a day after a 16-year-old student posted the petition on Change.org asking classmates to wear teal Friday in support of sexual assault awareness. The student’s parents declined to be interviewed and declined to allow their daughter to speak on the record, but acknowledged they are in contact with the school regarding the petition.

In the petition that was edited three times and has more than 3,000 signatures, the student, who identifies herself as CJ, states she was suspended from school after a physical altercation with another girl at the school who claimed CJ was lying about an alleged sexual assault, but when CJ went to the principal to explain herself, she was told to “suck it up.”

Guenther and his attorney, Eric Goldstein, said school security, local law enforcement and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office are all involved in the response to the allegations in the petition, and that the alleged rape did not happen on school grounds.

“Her statement that she was told to suck it up is just 100% false,” Goldstein said.

Gunether said the district has certified school counselors and this year added a licensed social worker to the staff to address student needs.

“Students are provided with those resources when they are needed. I can tell you that our faculty members did all they could to assist this student,” Guenther said.

Contact: 609-272-7251

CLowe@pressofac.com

Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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