The image is a heartbreaking one: 16-year-old Sladjana Vidovic lying in an open casket, dressed in the sparkly pink dress she had intended to wear to prom. It's an image that has been repeated three more times at Mentor High School, an institution that has seen three suicides and one overdose in the past two years. All were victims of bullying: Vidovic, a native Croatian, was teased for her accent and called "Slutty Jana"; one was harassed for having a learning disability, another for being gay, a fourth for being a boy who wore pink.
Now two families, including the Vidovics, are suing the school district. Vidovic's parents reportedly begged the school to intervene many times, and say it promised to take care of Sladjana—but when they asked to see records related to their reports of bullying, the school said they were destroyed during a switch to computers. And the Vidovics say they haven't seen much soul-searching among the bullies in Mentor: The family watched, said Sladjana's sister, as the girls who had tormented her for months walked up to the casket—and laughed. Some students say the problem is Mentor's culture of conformity: If you're not an athlete or cheerleader, you're not cool. And if you're not cool, you're a prime target for the bullies, reports the AP.