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State's Office of Professional Conduct investigating Emilie Olsen case

Olsen committed suicide in 2014
Posted at 3:04 PM, Dec 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 15:20:52-05

CINCINNATI -- The Ohio Department of Education is investigating the case of Emilie Olsen, a 13-year-old Fairfield Middle School student who committed suicide in 2014.

State officials would not disclose why they were investigating Olsen’s case or when the investigation began. Spokeswoman Kim Norris would only say state officials were “made aware of the situation” and are “already in the process of reviewing the matter.”

“We cannot provide anything further at this time,” Norris said.

The state’s Office of Professional Conduct is involved in the review process. The Office of Professional Conduct investigates "allegations involving criminal convictions or conduct unbecoming the teaching profession," according to the state’s website. 

If the office decides there was misconduct involving a teacher or school official, that educator could lose his or her license and employment. 

Olsen's parents filed a federal lawsuit in December of last year that accuses nine Fairfield City Schools officials, the school district and the school board of knowing the 13-year-old was bullied at school and did not act to stop it before she committed suicide in December of 2014. 

In their multi-count claim against the Fairfield City School District, the Olsens allege a failure at every level -- from teachers to guidance counselors, assistant principals, principals and the district superintendent -- to provide a safe learning environment for their daughter.

Specifically, they allege:

  • violations of Emilie's right to due process by failing to address the bullying
  • discrimination on the basis of national origin
  • discrimination on the basis of her gender
  • violations of their obligation to respond to bullying, harassment and assault/battery
  • negligence and gross negligence
  • wrongful death
  • And much more

Former Fairfield City Schools superintendent Paul Otten, who is among the defendants named in the complaint, left his position in April to become the superintendent of the nearby Beavercreek City School District.

Fairfield Middle School Principal Lincoln Butts resigned in May for "personal reasons" amid accusations he intimidated Olsen's parents after her death. 

 

Olsen's parents claimed Butts showed up at their home, unannounced and accompanied by two police officers five days after their daughter's suicide. The parents claim Butts and police demanded that Olsen's father let them into his home but refused to say why they were there. One officer flashed his badge, the parents claimed. 

Emilie Olsen's yearbook photo

READ the lawsuit here

Four days after Olsen's suicide, Fairfield City School District administrators were confident enough to release this statement to parents and students:

“There have been many rumors and misinformation about bullying with regard to this tragedy. The district has never had an indication – by self-report, or reports from others – that bullying has ever occurred.”

But WCPO's I-Team found emails, school reports, a social media account and more that showed the exact opposite was true.

READ the I-Team’s special report

Since then, more parents have come forward claiming their child was being bullied while under the school district’s supervision.

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

StopBullying.gov -  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