FAIRFIELD, Ohio — The leader of Fairfield City Schools says he owes all he has become as an educational leader to his 19 years with the district, but it’s time to move on to another challenge.
Paul Otten, superintendent of Fairfield City Schools since 2011 and an employee of the school system since 1997, said the opportunity to lead Beavercreek Schools in Greene County was too tempting an offer to decline.
The Beavercreek Board of Education voted to hire the 43-year-old Otten during a special meeting Monday evening. The 7,500-student school system has consistently been rated by the state as being among the top academic performers in the Greater Dayton area.
Otten told the Journal-News Monday evening that a consultant firm hired by Beavercreek officials first approached him for the superintendent’s job.
“It’s a great opportunity and not an easy decision,” said Otten, a father of four who started as a teacher in the Butler County district 19 years ago.
“I love Fairfield, and I owe everything I am today as a school administrator to this district,” he said.
Otten started as a teacher in Fairfield, became an assistant principal in 1999 and was promoted to school principal in 2001. In 2008 he moved up to assistant superintendent.
Otten was one of three finalists for the Beavercreek job. He will finish the current school year with Fairfield and start the new job Aug. 1.
Otten will replace the current Beavercreek superintendent, Bill McGlothlin, who submitted his letter of resignation and plans to retire in July.
Otten Named in Federal Lawsuit
In the past two years, Fairfield City Schools has come under fire for how it handled bullying among students. Emilie Olsen, a student at Fairfield Middle School, committed suicide in 2014; a WCPO I-Team investigation found evidence that bullying was a factor in her death. However, the district continued to vehemently deny bullying was a problem in its schools.
Olsen's parents filed a federal lawsuit in December that accuses Otten -- along with eight other Fairfield City Schools officials, the school district and the school board -- of knowing their daughter was bullied at school but failing to stop it before she took her life.
According to the suit, Olsen, an Asian-American, was "continually bullied, harassed, assaulted, battered and discriminated against in school, and further bullied and harassed online because of her race, national origin and gender, as well as her association with Caucasian students and her perceived sexual orientation and practices.
"Emilie's parents tried to stop the bullying and pleaded with certain defendants for help. Defendants failed to stop the bullying and it continued. Consequently, Emilie suffered severe anguish, distress and depression and ultimately committed suicide."
The suit says also says Olsen wasn't the only victim.
"Other students suffered unrelenting bullying and discrimination and two of those students attempted suicide before Emilie's death. Certain of the defendants likewise failed to intervene on behalf of these students," according to the suit.
The bullying started when Emilie was a fifth grader at Fairfield Intermediate School and continued through the seventh grade at Fairfield Middle School, the suit said.
"I don’t know if this is a direct result of all of that (lawsuit)," Schmitz said. "To be honest with you, I don’t care. I am happy he is leaving. I am happy there is an opportunity to start real change."
The suit seeks damages and reforms to the Fairfield City Schools practices and policies for responding to bullying, harassment, assault, battery and discrimination, it says.
"A beautiful young lady lost her life," Schmitz said. "Lots of other kids are being bullied. Lots of other kids' lives have been damaged or ruined."
A statement from Fairfield City Schools in December said:
"The Fairfield City School District is aware that a lawsuit has been filed against the District and a number of additional defendants by the Olsens. The District will be defending the litigation and will be providing appropriate responses in the course of the litigation. The District has no further comment at this time regarding this pending matter."
Jason Law contributed to this report. Read more about this story from Michael D. Clark with the Journal-News, a WCPO media partner.