Fairfield school board stays quiet on lawsuit

Posted at 11:50 PM, Apr 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-22 07:13:50-04

FAIRFIELD, Ohio -- Angry parents took their frustrations to the Fairfield School Board just days after the district denied allegations in a federal lawsuit filed by the family of a student who killed herself.

Emilie Olsen, a Fairfield Middle School student, killed herself with her father's gun in December 2014, police said. The federal lawsuit claims Emilie's death resulted from bullying by other students while she attended Fairfield Intermediate School and Middle School, that Fairfield officials – including the superintendent – knew about the bullying, and that they did nothing to stop it in violation of their own policies and the law.

Olsen was 13 years old when she died.

READ MORE: What else Olsen's family says

Although the school board didn't comment on the lawsuit, parents didn't hold back.

"The situation has not been dealt with, and it's like a wild fire," William Tong said. "I am really concerned."

"They won't mention her. Emilie Olsen is a bad word up here in Fairfield, unfortunately. That is the sad part of it," Ray Schmitz said.

The Olsen family's lawsuit claims Fairfield school officials, including Superintendent Paul Otten, knew about the bullying and did nothing to stop it.

IN DEPTH: I-Team finds evidence Olsen was bullied

In two court filings this month, attorneys for the district denied all 22 allegations in the lawsuit and asked a judge to make a ruling on 10 counts without allowing Olsen's family to introduce evidence.

Some parents got so emotional Thursday night that they had to leave.

"It's tough stuff, and it doesn’t surprise me," Schmitz said. "They aren't going to just admit to doing it. It will all come out in the system."

Two weeks ago, Otten announced he'd resign at the end of the year after accepting another job. Though there's been no indication that his departure has anything to do with the lawsuit or bullying, at Thursday's meeting, the school board said it would allow the public to take part in a search for the next superintendent.

"That's a good opportunity for us to say what we need for a culture change and hope that the next superintendent will foster that culture change and we can move on down the road in the right direction," Schmitz said.