FAIRFIELD, Ohio — It was standing room only at Thursday night’s Fairfield City School District board meeting, as protestors filled the room to demand the district take recent reports of bullying more seriously.
As WCPO previously reported, 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 meeting.
— John Genovese (@JEGenovese) October 15, 2015
In this most recent case, the parents' attorney, Charleston C.K. Wang, said the incident shows “a pattern of bullying and harassment directed at Asian-Americans and young girls in particular.”
The board said early in Thursday night's meeting they would not engage in conversation about bullying but would listen to the more than 20 community members who signed up to speak, most of whom called on the board to make these recent allegations the district's top priority.
Among those in attendance, Sharon Schmitz told reporters her daughter was recently the victim of bullying and that, now, the child is afraid to go back to school. "We want to have our daughter feel safe going to school," she said. "We want all the children to feel safe going to school."
Schmitz's husband, Raymond, said he's hopeful parents' message Thursday night will have an impact, but remains unsure. "You ask me if I think this is going to change anything," he said. "I don't know — I hope, but we've been here before and we're here again."
While the board did not respond directly to parents' comments Thursday night, district spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher said the board and administrators are taking everything parents said into consideration.
HEAR from more concerned parents in the video player above.
The most recent accusation comes less than a year after another Asian-American student, 13-year-old Emilie Olsen, took her own life last December. Olsen’s parents said Emilie was the victim of targeted bullying, which they said led their daughter to put a gun to her head and pull the trigger.
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.
After administrators ruled in May that bullying had not been a factor in Olsen's death, the school board faced a similarly packed room.
Six months after Olsen’s suicide, another Fairfield Middle Schooler came forward and told WCPO she was bullied at the school the previous year and attempted suicide in the summer of 2014.
In both girls' cases, someone set up a fake Instagram account to ridicule them.
"They definitely have a bullying issue at their school," the girl's mother, Danielle Lewis, said.
The I-Team went to Fairfield Middle School in May to press for more information about the district’s handling of Emilie’s suicide and bullying policies, but Gentry-Fletcher said the administration would not issue an official statement.
WCPO's Greg Noble, Tom McKee, Jason Law and Maxim Alter contributed to this report.
Bullying and Suicide Resources