Fairfield Schools creates new anti-bullying position

A Butler County school system accused in a lawsuit of being unresponsive to bullying and causing the suicide of a student has created its first district-level position to deal with bullying.

The Fairfield Board of Education voted 4-0 vote — with board Michael Berding absent — to approve the district’s new “Bullying and Harassment Officer” “to coordinate district preventives and training for students, staff and parents.

Donna Martin, currently Fairfield Schools’ coordinator of district information, was appointed to the job starting Aug. 1.

“While serving as the Bullying and Harassment Officer, she will coordinate initiatives such as anti-bullying and anti-harassment workshops, training, and programs,” said Fairfield Superintendent Billy Smith.

“Her work will focus on students and staff, but some programs are intended to also engage the community. She will be responsible for maintaining appropriate records regarding bullying and harassment, while reviewing and recommending revisions and updates to policies and procedures. Martin will also ensure that allegations of bullying and harassment are appropriately investigated according to board policy,” he said.

The school board approved a 2-year contract for Martin with an annual salary of $62,000.

Fairfield Schools are still facing litigation in the wake of the suicide death of middle-school student Emilie Olsen, whose parents claimed school officials were unresponsive in fulfilling their responsibilities in addressing bullying by classmates, leading to her taking her own life by shooting herself in their home in 2014.

In April 2016, Fairfield school officials filed a rebuttal to the lawsuit.

In a separate filing, school officials asked the judge in a U.S. District Court in Cincinnati to rule on 10 counts made in the Olsen’s lawsuit without allowing them to introduce evidence.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett released a calendar for the case and a jury trial is tentatively set in February 2018.

Fairfield school officials have refused to comment publicly on the Olsen case citing pending litigation and declined Thursday to comment if the creation of the new anti-bullying district job was connected in any way to the Olsen lawsuit.

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