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Family claims Drew Ferraro was bullied

Investigators and school officials maintain original statement after student's suicide.

February 22, 2012|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • A memorial with a portrait of Drew Ferraro at Crescenta Valley High School on Tuesday, February 14, 2012. Ferraro, a 15-year-old sophomore, jumped to his death during lunch from a school building. His family says he was bullied at school. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
A memorial with a portrait of Drew Ferraro at Crescenta…

Glendale Unified officials and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigators on Wednesday stood by their earlier statements that bullying did not factor into a 15-year-old student’s decision to jump to his death at Crescenta Valley High School earlier this month.

Their statements came on the heels of an interview the parents of the student, Drew Ferraro, gave KCBS-TV, in which they claimed recently discovered journal entries had revealed their son was the target of harassment at school, including name-calling and pushing, and that the incidents might have been a factor in his death.

Drew jumped from the roof of a three-story school building into a cement courtyard during the lunch period on Feb. 10, horrifying witnesses and stunning the larger community.

“The fact that he did do it at school, to me, was a huge statement,” his mother, Deana Ferraro said during the television interview.

The Ferraro family’s assertions that Drew was bullied stand in stark contrast with those of law enforcement and Glendale Unified officials, who maintained their assessments that bullying played no role in the incident.

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Los Angeles Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina on Wednesday said the bullying issue was not raised by friends, teachers or family members during the early hours of the investigation. Instead, it only came up after members of the media descended on the school, he said.

Corina also said Drew did not reference bullying in any of the four suicide notes found on his body.

“His suicide notes were very telling” Corina said. “They didn’t mention anything about being abused or being bullied. He gave a different reason for doing what he did.”

Investigators were not aware of the existence of Drew’s journal until it came out in the media this week, Corina said, adding that investigators did not plan to review them.

“This is a kid here who had problems,” Corina said. “I think he was suffering from deep depression. I think the parents were working with him and were aware of the problem. But we will never understand why he chose to take his life the way he did. That was his decision.”

Deana Ferraro told KCBS-TV that Drew’s journal entries were only recently discovered, and that they recalled incidents of name calling and pushing that were “just tormenting him.”

Glendale Unified spokesman Steven Frasher on Tuesday declined to comment on whether school officials were aware of any possible harassment or depression, but said ”we stand by our initial statements.”

“And yes, [bullying] has been looked into,” he added.

An internal investigation is ongoing, Frasher said, adding that a final report would be made to the school board during a closed meeting some time in the future.

John and Deana Ferraro said they are planning a fundraiser in memory of their son to take place March 4 at Leo’s All Star Sports Bar and Grill in La Crescenta. Proceeds will help establish a new, local anti-bullying foundation to be called “Drew’s Voice.”

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