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Protect Victims, Not Bullies at Fairfield Middle School - in Memory of Emilie Olsen

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What's been going on at Fairfield Middle School:

In December 2014, a 13-year-old girl named Emilie Olsen died by suicide in her family's home in Butler County, OH. A few days later, Fairfield City Schools released a statement denying that any form of bullying occurred or was a factor in the suicide. Emilie's parents maintain that bullying contributed to her young death, and now evidence has come out showing that Emilie was the target of bullying both at Fairfield Middle School and on social media. There has also been evidence suggesting that the bullying was related to her ethnic background as an Asian American adoptee.

On October 5, 2015, Emilie's best friend--another Asian American adoptee--was the victim of an intentional act of aggression during gym class, which resulted in her suffering a concussion. The individual responsible was allegedly the same person who also bullied Emilie Olsen prior to her suicide. This incident was caught on video by school security cameras, but so far school officials have not pursued any disciplinary action against the bully.  

This lack of adequate response is shown most clearly in the school allowing the individual to attend a field trip to DC in early November. Parents had been given paperwork stating that any disciplinary action or lack of good standing in behavior would disqualify a student from going on the trip. If Fairfield City School administrators permit him to participate in the trip, then they must believe his behavior is in good standing. The victim is also going on the same field trip, and her parents, Ray and Sharon, now fear for her safety--especially given the school's history of indifference toward bullying.

On October 15, 2015, almost 200 people attended a Fairfield School Board meeting to support Ray and Sharon and demand change. At this meeting, parents of current and former students brought to light a troubling culture and pattern of unchecked bullying at Fairfield Middle School, dating back over 20 years. Parents told stories of apathetic reactions from administrators to reports of bullying, blame and unfair punishment being given to the victims, and instances of the teachers themselves bullying and promoting bullying of students. The worst details shared by parents were the effects bullying had on their children: one child plucked out all of her eyelashes and vomited daily from the constant anxiety, one cried himself to sleep each night dreading the coming school day, and some children regularly came home with bruises and black eyes. As a result, several parents have moved their children to a different school district, or have started homeschooling them. Despite the shocking nature of these stories, none were as tragic as young Emilie's, and yet administrators continue to deny that they have inadequately addressed the issue of bullying at the middle school.

What we are requesting:

We are asking Fairfield Middle School and Fairfield City School administrators to demonstrate a sense of concern for the well-being of their students, in the following ways:

  1. Most urgently, we request that this particular bully receive some form of disciplinary action, which should also disqualify him from attending the upcoming DC field trip with Ray and Sharon's daughter. We make this request not only for the safety of the victim, but also for the moral development of the bully. Without showing bullies the errors of their ways, we can’t expect their behavior to change.
  2. We request that the current bullying policies and practices at Fairfield Middle School be reviewed by a third party and revised to ensure that victims, not bullies, are being protected in a safe and healthy learning environment.

We will no longer remain silent on the issue of bullying, and we come together to demand respect and fair treatment for all individuals.  Schools have a duty under law to maintain a healthy and nurturing learning environment at all times, for all students. We stand in solidarity with Ray and Sharon, their daughter, the parents of Emilie Olsen, and all victims of bullying.

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