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Parents of Asian American Student who Killed Herself Sue School Saying She was Bullied

Emilie Olsen Vigil
Mark Olsen, father of Emilie, participates in a candlelighting ceremony Friday on the anniversary of Emilie’s death
Photo by Shau Zavon

By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent

The Asian American Coalition is supporting a lawsuit filed against the Fairfield School District near Cincinnati for allegedly doing nothing to stop the bullying of an Asian American student in the years leading up to her suicide.

The suit is filed on behalf of Marc and Cynthia Olsen, whose adopted Chinese daughter Emilie took her life at the age of 13.

“I hope that this suit will bring the school system to form the right anti-bullying program and make the Fairfield school a great place for children of all background to study and grow,” said Kaz Sato of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League and a member of the Asian American Coalition. “I also hope that other schools that are facing bullying issues would learn from this case and construct the environment and culture that are inclusive and diverse. Those of us in the Asian American Coalition in the Greater Cincinnati will keep our eyes and ears open to make sure this goal will be achieved.”

Sato said he had come to the conclusion that a lawsuit would eventually be needed to get the Fairfield district to be accountable and move toward improving and implementing an effective anti-bullying policy.

Access to a jury of our peers is a cherished American tradition and right,” said Charleston Wang , a member of the Asian American Coalition and the attorney for the family of another adopted Chinese girl who allege she was also bullied.  “When negotiations and efforts to reach agreement all fail one turns to judge and jury for a fair trial.”

The suit contends Emilie was “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 say they pleaded for the district to help, but it did nothing.

Named in the suit are the Fairfield Board of Education, school district, and some of its administrators, principals, and guidance counselors as well as unnamed students.

In one incident outlined in the lawsuit, Emilie was followed by a fellow sixth grader into the bathroom. The girl handed Emilie a razor and told her to “end her life,” according to the lawsuit.

The same girl also is accused of using social media to publicly urge Emilie to “cut one of your vanes and die cuz I will be glad.”

Other students are accused of “physically battering and assaulting” Emilie.

Emilie was also ridiculed for the clothing she wore and an Instagram account was created entitled “Emilie Olsen is gay.”

Emilie got into a fight over the Instagram account.The fight was allegedly witnessed by a teacher who broke up the fight, but did nothing further to investigate or discipline any of the students.

The following year Emilie was placed in the same pod with some of the students who are accused of bullying and harassing her. Emilie’s parents say they contacted the school to explain the situation and requested a transfer. They say the school refused and the same pattern of bullying and harassment continued in the seventh grade.

The lawsuit also cites numerous derogatory and racist messages such as “go die Emilie,” “Emilie is a whore” and numerous racial messages written on restroom walls, stalls and mirrors.These messages were brought to the attention of administrators who are accused of doing nothing and allowing the messages to remain in place.

School Board President Jerome Kearns did not respond to AsAmNews request for comment. The school district, however, did release a statement.

“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.”

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