Mother sues school board over daughter's suicide
Girl cast in school video production as suicidal victim
OVIEDO, Fla. – A central Florida mom says her daughter killed herself three years ago, shortly after her teacher picked her to play a suicidal teen in school video production.
At the time, Johanna Lowe was an eighth grader at Tuskawilla Middle School in Oviedo. Ellie Piorkowski says her daughter was full of life.
Lowe loved performing, was the student body president and had lots of friends. Suicide just didn't make sense.
"I know she got that idea from that video," Piorkowski said.
Three weeks after her daughter's funeral, Piorkowski said a classmate told her that Lowe starred in a suicide prevention PSA, all filmed and edited in her video production class at Tuskawilla Middle School.
"I couldn't believe what I saw in that video," Piorkowski said.
The video shows Johanna sitting in a classroom, writing a suicide note. She then swallows a bottle of pills.
Piorkowski is now suing Johanna's teacher, Joseph Fife, and the Seminole County School Board, because she says the school never informed her that Johanna would be portraying a suicide victim for a class project.
"Teaching young 13-year-old kids about suicide, and involving them in a suicide video, any parent who has a kid that would learn about that would be outraged," said Eric Faddis, the attorney representing Lowe's family.
The school board sent WKMG-TV this statement:
"The School Board of Seminole County acknowledges that it has been sued. The case has been assigned to insurance defense counsel and will be aggressively defended. The School Board may not further comment on the advice of the School Board Attorney."
Piorkowski thinks about her daughter everyday, and she says the school failed her.
"I know she's watching me right now," Piorkowski said. "I'm doing this for her, because I don't want other parents to go through what I'm going through," she said.
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