By Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver
(Castle Rock, CO) Dozens of Douglas County community members came out with signs, shirts, and loud voices to demonstrate against racism in the district’s schools and to call for its leaders to do more to stop harassment and discrimination.
Melissa Southerland organized the protest to support Jeramiah Ganzy and other students who have faced identity-based hate speech.
During the protest, Lacey Ganzy, Jeramiah’s mom, said DougCo superintendent Erin Kane’s recent remarks at a school board meeting implied this type of harassment often occurs online and outside school hours and is difficult to monitor.
But the students who targeted Jeramiah posted to Snapchat at school during class time. She also said she continues to be dismayed that neither Kane nor board president Mike Peterson has contacted her.
Ganzy thanked board director David Ray, who she said reached out to express his dismay and heartfelt apologies.
DougCo leaders address protest
The DougCo school board met for its scheduled session immediately following the demonstration. Early on, Kane expressed how sorry she was that a family experienced racial remarks made by other students and that racism in any form is unacceptable in the district.
Assistant superintendent Danny Winsor reiterated that his team is committed to caring for each of the district's students. He said administrators and counselors met with students at Castle Rock Middle School, where Jeramiah attended before deciding to finish the year online, to discuss bullying, kindness, and harassment.
Danelle Hiatt, deputy superintendent, also met with a small team of teachers and students at the middle school who said they feel supported and are concerned that Jeramiah’s story isn’t indicative of their school experience.
Hiatt didn’t say if those students or teachers were also black or biracial like Jeramiah.
Later that evening, board director Elizabeth Hanson resigned partly because she felt like she couldn't stay on the board and continue to look students like Jeramiah in the eye and confirm the district is doing all it can for them.
"Jeramiah is not the only student in our district who has experienced disgusting acts of racism, antisemitism, or homophobic or transphobic acts. I will never understand how your political party gets a bigger voice than our students to determine what policy changes you are going to push through and approve tonight," said Hanson.