CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (KDVR) — Parents and students are calling for action from Douglas County School District leaders over alleged racist remarks towards a student at Castle Rock Middle School.
Dozens of supporters gathered outside the Douglas County School District headquarters Tuesday afternoon to denounce racism in schools and call on school leaders to do more.
Melissa Sutherland, a Castle Rock parent, organized the peaceful protest with her son, Glenn, after hearing about Jeramiah Ganzy’s story. He’s an eighth-grader at Castle Rock Middle School and an alleged target of racist remarks.
“I immediately knew something had to be done,” Sutherland said. “I wanted Jeramiah to know the community still stood behind him. There are good people in the world and he needed to know that.”
After racism claims, superintendent responds
In a school board meeting on May 9, Superintendent Erin Kane addressed the accusations and said, “I just want to make it really clear, again, that racial slurs and discrimination are absolutely unacceptable in our school district.”
Lacey Ganzy, Jeramiah’s mother, said that’s not enough.
“I really appreciate the statement that was made, but at the same time this system failed my son,” Lacey Ganzy said. “I hope that everyone understands this isn’t about race. This is about all of the kids in those protected classes and making sure that any of them experiencing the hate crime are vindicated.”
Lacey Ganzy said Jeramiah is finishing his eighth-grade year online and will not be returning.
“He’s only got a few days left and it was really just sad to see his middle school days end in that way,” Lacey Ganzy said.
Jeramiah Ganzy said his focus is on creating active change.
“I want students that have been racist to be properly educated and I want future students to be taught racism is wrong,” Jeramiah Ganzy said.
Douglas County School District releases statement
A spokesperson with the school district said appropriate disciplinary action was taken per policy but could not elaborate because of student privacy.
Their full statement is included below:
“It is our goal to take care of each and every one of our students in our district. We appreciate the Ganzy family bringing their concerns to us so we can make sure our system is addressing their needs.
CRMS administration has been actively working with district health, prevention and wellness staff, as well as working on refining its digital and social media training of its students through Common Sense Media. School staff has also been evaluating and refining its essential skills and social and emotional learning curriculum.
Some examples include:
CRMS Administration in Partnership with DCSD Health, Wellness and Prevention Department
• Begin process of evaluating SEL program, Second Step, in order to see if it is meeting the needs of current students. (started in January/February)
• School administration and counseling presentations in each classroom addressing harassment and bullying, including strategies for kids to become empowered through actions and voice. The activity includes resources and discussions about how to create a safe environment for learning. (April/May)
• DCSD Health, Wellness, and Prevention department working with CRMS to identify and implement strategies for engaging students in proper ways to treat one another.
Essential Skills and Social Emotional Learning Curriculum Evaluation and Refinement
• Continue evaluation of SEL curriculum and create a plan for the 2023-2024 school year.
• Common Sense Media: Use lessons and activities related to online safety and behaviors.
• Second Step: Evaluate lessons and activities we are currently using.
• Research use of other programs for activities to use as universal supports for CRMS.
• Current weekly lessons will continue into the 2023-2024 school year.
• Recognition of heritage months.
Student Empowerment and Leadership DevelopmentDouglas County School District
• Student Leadership Counsels – empower students through leadership, citizenship and fostering positive behavior within the school.”