CASTLE ROCK, Colorado – A 14-year-old boy told Denver7 that he experienced so much racism at Castle Rock Middle School that he no longer felt safe there. Now his parents plan to file a lawsuit alleging that the Douglas County School District downplayed the behavior of the other students as bullying rather than a hate crime.
Jeramiah Ganzy, 14, says racism from other students at Castle Rock Middle School was so outrageous that he is completing the rest of the school year online.
“Especially this year it was the worst on the bus and at school. They would call me like a monkey, the N-word. At the end of Black History Month, they told me it wasn’t my month anymore,” the teen said.
Jeramiah says not only did the teachers turn a blind eye to the harassment, he also felt discriminated against by a staff member who accused him of stealing a water bottle.
“She then asked me where I got the money for it,” he said.
The situation escalated when the teenager alerted administrators to a large Snapchat group of about 100 students.
“You sent the N-word. They sent things against people of the Jewish religion. They were sending things against the LGBTQ community,” Jeramiah said.
According to Jeramiah’s mother, the harassment became even more severe at this point.
“A group of them called for a lynching because my son had ratted out and ruined their college future. And at this point [Jeramiah] was immediately removed from the school,” said Lacey Ganzy.
Back in March, Jeramiah emailed the district about the racism and how “unwanted” he felt at the school. In an email, Castle Rock Middle School Principal John Veit said: “It’s unfortunate to hear this. We’re working on it, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a long project for us. He wrote very well in it.”
That’s not enough for the Ganzys.
Lacey believes the county needs to implement its justice policy and says students who are victims of hate speech should get a lawyer. She says none of her children will be attending DCSD schools next year.
“We’re not going to continue to classify things as bullying, we’re going to classify them as hate speech and hate crime because that’s what they are,” Lacey said.
The family has hired an attorney and plans to file a lawsuit.
“It’s not just like that, you know, kids are kids. This represents a higher level of harm for students who are exposed to racism and discrimination. And schools have a legal – and a moral – obligation to ensure that this action and behavior is stopped in order to educate their students,” said attorney Iris Halpern.
Denver7 reached out to the Douglas County School District and was told by a spokesman that the district could not discuss disciplinary action due to privacy concerns. In a statement, the district said it appreciates that the Ganzys “bring their concerns to us so we can ensure our system meets their needs.”
“Our goal is to take care of each and every one of our students in our district. We appreciate that the Ganzy family brings their concerns to us so we can ensure our system meets their needs.”
The follow up
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