Growing up, Emilie Olsen had an infectious smile, a love for horses and a perfect attendance record. She was a straight-A student and an excellent volleyball player. Emilie “had an extremely sweet spirit about her,” a family friend recalled.
On Dec. 11, 2014, the 13-year-old shot and killed herself at home.
It was a tragedy that sent a jolt through Fairfield, Ohio, where Emilie had lived since her parents, Marc and Cindy Olsen, adopted her from China when she was 9 months old. Classmates and neighbors mourned a young life cut short.
But in the days following Emilie’s death, her parents spoke out against the seeming suddenness of it all. Emilie’s death was precipitated by cruel, relentless bullying, the Olsens said. Worse: It could have been prevented, they claimed, if officials at Fairfield Intermediate and Middle School had been more responsive. Emilie did not have to die, they said.
These were the allegations made in an 82-page federal lawsuit the Olsens filed against Fairfield City School District, various administrators and Emilie’s alleged bullies last December. Since then, their fight to hold the school district accountable for their daughter’s death has been met with support from parents and denials from school officials.
Former Fairfield City Schools superintendent Paul Otten, who is among the defendants named in the complaint, left his position last month to become the superintendent of the nearby Beavercreek City School District.