Parents: Admit Fairfield has bullying problem

Posted at 10:31 AM, Nov 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-20 10:31:58-05

FAIRFIELD, Ohio -- Parents at a Fairfield City School Board meeting said they're glad to see the district is talking about bullying, but they want the district to admit it has a problem on its hands. 

Asian-American community leaders delivered a petition to the city’s school board Thursday night, demanding more be done to address claims of bullying in the district’s schools.

The petition, which had more than 1,000 signatures Thursday, calls for the district to take disciplinary action against a student who, petitioners said, intentionally injured several other students.

The petition also asked that current bullying policies within the district — and specifically at Fairfield Middle School — undergo a third-party review.

At Thursday night's meeting, principals for each school in the district individually presented the bullying policies in place and the programs and initiatives they have to promote positive behaviors.

Tessa Xuan, who delivered the petition, said she was happy with that progress. But, she said, district leaders fell short of acknowledging that bullying is an issue for their students.

"They were just saying 'This is what we’re doing to combat bullying' without talking about what the problem was or why it was happening," Xuan said.

As WCPO previously reported, concern from district parents over bullying began to build in December 2014, when 13-year-old Emilie Olsen — a student at FMS — put her father’s gun to her head and pulled the trigger.

STATS: See Fairfield School District’s bullying records

Olsen’s parents said Emilie was the victim of targeted bullying, which they say led to their daughter’s suicide.

Fairfield officials said they looked into the case and concluded that bullying had not played a part in Olsen’s death, but WCPO’s I-Team found emails, school reports, a social media account and more that showed the exact opposite was true.

I-TEAM: Evidence shows bullying a factor in Fairfield student's suicide
MORE: Fairfield schools not reviewing bullying policy after student's suicide

Olsen's death hit too close to home for Angela Black, who said Thursday night her son also was a victim of bullying at Fairfield Middle School.

"I got an email telling me that a child had committed suicide days after I found out children were telling my son to kill himself," Black said.

In the months after Olsen's death, new allegations of bullying began to surface at Fairfield Middle School. In a recent case, which came about last month, a parent said his Asian-American daughter was recently the victim of bullying and sent a letter to the Asian-American community to ask that they attend the Oct. 15 meeting.

An attorney representing the parents in that case said the district is seeing "a pattern of bullying and harassment directed at Asian-Americans and young girls in particular."

More than 20 community members spoke at that board meeting, most of whom called on the board to make these recent allegations the district’s top priority. The board said in that meeting they would not engage in conversation about bullying but would hear speakers’ concerns and take them under advisement.


WCPO's Greg Noble, Tom McKee, Jason Law and Maxim Alter contributed to this report.

Bullying and Suicide Resources

The Family Violence Prevention Project

Greater Cincinnati Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network

Cincinnati Children's Anti-Bullying Curriculum

The Girls Guide to End Bullying -  Ohio anti-bullying laws & policies

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Ohio Suicide Hotlines

Cincinnati Children's 'Surviving the Teens' Suicide Prevention program