Ohio School Plagued by Suicides Faces Two Lawsuits Over Bullying Response
Posted Oct 12, 2010 9:11 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A suburban Ohio school district that lost three high school youths to suicides and a fourth to an antidepressant overdose is facing lawsuits from two of the families who say the school failed to prevent the bullying that contributed to their deaths.
A lawyer for the grieving families, Ken Myers, said Monday in a Today Show appearance that the Mentor School District outside of Cleveland is to blame for the deaths that spanned a period of little more than two years, according to MSNBC.com and the Associated Press. The bullying was "incessant, it was constant, and the teachers and the administrators for whatever reason took a hands-off, laissez-faire approach and didn't get involved and stop this at its inception,” he said.
Sladjana Vidovic’s family filed suit in August, the Associated Press reported in an earlier story. A Croatian immigrant, 16-year-old Sladjana Vidovic was ridiculed for her accent, called names such as "Slut-Jana-Vagina,” pushed down the stairs and slapped in the face with a water bottle, the story says. After Vidovic’s suicide, her family says, the girls who had tormented her in school walked up to her casket and laughed.
Two other youths at the high school committed suicide and a third died after taking an overdose of antidepressants. One was bullied for being gay, another for having a learning disability, and a third for being a boy who liked to wear pink.
The school district posted a statement on its website saying it had anti-bullying programs before they were mandated by the state. Each school has anti-bullying committees, and holds class meetings and motivational speakers to highlight the problem, the district said.