Mom, student allege Castle Rock Middle School group chat evolved into bullying, racism
A mother and her 14-year-old son allege a group chat among Castle Rock Middle School students evolved into bullying and racism toward black and biracial students.
The allegations were first reported by our news partner, Colorado Community Media, last week. Now, the family is working with attorneys to push for change and accountability within the Douglas County School District.
Known as bright but introverted, Jeramiah Ganzy is questioning whether he’ll ever return to Castle Rock Middle School. For a week and a half now, the 8th grader’s answer has been no. It’s a decision, mom, Lacey Ganzy, acknowledges may never change.
“I knew that this time we needed to make sure that there was more light shined on what was going on in the school,” Lacey Ganzy said.
According to Ganzy, a staff member questioned Jeremiah for stealing a water bottle last month, which she considered profiling. It happened more than a month after the 8th grader had already sent an email through the DCSD feedback forum for safety and security of students about his experience with profiling and racism at the school.
“I feel that our school, along with many others, could use some redirection on how we treat fellow students,” Ganzy said in the email. “I’m just disappointed that this happens so often, and if it keeps coming from students, it’s paving a path for students in previous grades, and may never be fixed.”
A day later, Lacey Ganzy learned about a student group chat on Snapchat that her son was invited into in February. Screenshots provided to CBS News Colorado show one student share racial slurs and suggest bringing back the holocaust, while another student threatened violence against black people.
“It was disgusting,” Ganzy said. “These were 12 and 13-year-old children.”
Ganzy not only pulled Jeramiah from the school, but also went to the district and later filed a police report. Since then, she says one student was suspended for five days but another faced no discipline.
“I feel like I’m the one who has to get away from all of it when I’m the victim,” Jeramiah Ganzy said.
A spokeswoman for DCSD said the district is continuing to address the matter consistent with the DCSD Student Code of Conduct and DCSD Board of Education policies.
“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,” district spokeswoman, Paula Hans, said in a statement.
Last week, Jeramiah and other members of the Ganzy family expressed their frustrations before the school board. His two older sisters also shared examples of their experiences with racist remarks and discrimination in the district.
“I was called a [racial slur] on the bus by multiple different students,” said Nevaeh Ganzy.
“Being myself has not only brought me racial discrimination, but it has put me in a position where I was being targeted for something I can’t control.”
The family says the district needs to do more to support students of color. In an interview with CBS News Colorado, Ganzy said she wants the district to clarify hate speech policies and add a new victim’s advocate for the district.
“I want to be the last family ran out of Castle Rock, and I want my son to see that what he did for standing up was worth losing his friends, his home, and his community,” she said.
The family is now working with attorneys from Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC to explore the possibility of filing civil rights claims in federal court.
To view the article in its entirety, visit www.cbsnews.com.