FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A Butler Tech teacher has been placed on leave after she made a racially charged remark at Fairfield High School, according to district officials.
Both Butler Tech and Fairfield City Schools say they took swift action after learning about Katherine Klimach's comment, and a spokesman for Butler Tech said Klimach expressed remorse for making it. Since Fairfield Middle School student Emilie Olsen killed herself in late 2014, critics have alleged district leaders failed to prevent bullying and racial harassment in the district.
The video from earlier this school year doesn't show Klimach or the student she's addressing, but she indicates the student is Chinese:
"We're waiting for it to come on. You broke it already. What's wrong with you? You Chinese are supposed to make computers, and you're breaking them instead."
Emilie Olsen's parents believe bullying, in part because of her Asian heritage, drove their daughter into a deep depression and eventually caused her to take her life. Fairfield City School officials have long denied the Olsens' allegations; however, Emilie's history with bullying has been well-documented through I-Team investigations.
Michael Beauchat, spokesman for Butler Tech, said the school system has a partnership with Fairfield City Schools, and its staff teaches some classes in the district so students don't have to commute to a Butler Tech campus.
Beauchat said he didn't know what day Klimach made the remark, but Butler Tech removed her from the classroom Oct. 6, the same day it got complaints about what she said. Butler Tech administrators saw the video a few days later, Beauchat said.
Klimach expressed remorse and is taking cultural sensitivity training, Beauchat said. She was disciplined but it's not clear whether she'll be fired, he said. He was unaware of any other complaints against her.
"Comments like those heard on the video have no place in the classroom, and we fully understand the community’s disappointment. We are disappointed, too," Beauchat said in a statement to WCPO.
WCPO has been unable to reach Klimach for comment.
Fairfield City Schools Superintendent Billy Smith said he's asked that the teacher not return to Fairfield schools.
Emilie Olsen's parents filed a federal lawsuit against Fairfield City Schools in December 2015, alleging a failure at every level to protect their daughter from abuse. Her former middle school principal, Lincoln Butts, resigned in May, and former Fairfield City Schools superintendent Paul Otten left around the same time to take over as leader of Beavercreek Schools near Dayton. Both are named in the Olsens' lawsuit.
A trial wouldn't be until February 2018, according to court filings. That is, if the Olsen family decides to take the suit all the way to a jury.
The family and the district -- and their attorneys -- will meet for a potential "settlement conference" on Sept. 20, 2017, according to documents filed April 28.