KASSON, Minn. - The Superintendent of Kasson-Mantorville Schools is speaking out about the death of 13-year-old Rachel Ehmke. The teenager took her own life after her parents say she was bullied.
Her books and locker were defaced with chewing gum and vicious words, and just days before her death, an anonymous text message went out to other students with inappropriate comments about the teen.
The district Superintendent, Mark Matuska, says they implemented a rigorous anti-bullying program this year. Staffs from teachers down to cooks and bus drivers were trained. Students were also taught about being a by-stander and when to step-in.
Three students reported that text message to the middle school principal the day after they received it. The principal notified both police and the parents in the first 30 mins. That set an investigation into motion...and in that sense the program worked -- but it didn't stop Rachel from taking her life.
"We're going to take a good look at mental health issues, I think that's important for us as a district. I think another focus is really trying to get kids to know that there's a place they can go for help so that we don't have a tragedy like this again in the future," said Superintendent Mark Matuska.
He also says police traced that text message and that it came from someone who was not a "current" Kasson-Mantorville student. The investigation into that continues.
Rachel's dad told KARE 11 that the school district did nothing to clean up her locker for six weeks. Matuska told us he could not comment on that for data privacy reasons.
It's a small town that has been hit hard by this death and Matuska says, right now, the focus is on healing.
"This is a big deal in the community of Kasson-Mantorville and we need to get this community healing again," said Matuska.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)