CASTLEROCK, Colo. -- A Colorado mother and father are pulling their 8-year-old child from school because they say she was forced to sit in a tiny cell-like room for hours and alone as part of detention.
"They told us she had been crying for hours as if that was the problem. Nobody comforted her," said Connie Ramstad, the girl's mother.
Ramstad got a call Tuesday from Rock Ridge Elementary notifying her that her daughter, Alegra, was in detention. She immediately headed to the school, and when she arrived, she took photos of Alegra looking frighted as she sat in the closed-door room.
"I found our girl basically in a jail cell. What they call a detention room. This little room is [about] 2 feet by 4 feet," said Ramstad.
Ramstad said staff told her that Alegra had threatened another student. But Ramstad says her daughter was sticking up for herself after being bullied by the same student for the past year.
‘Why are you being mean to me? Stop being mean to me, or I’m going to tell my mom on you," said Ramstad, as she recounted Alegra’s description of the incident.
The Ramstads are pulling Alegra from Rock Ridge Elementary School.
"We don't know how long she's going be traumatized from that. She's been sick for three days," she said.
They have hired attorney Igor Raykin and are even thinking about filing a lawsuit.
"I see a possible deprivation of civil rights. This is not the way to treat a child," said Raykin. “Somebody should’ve been on the phone with mom saying 'look, this is what happened, and this is what we are getting ready to do.'”
What makes it unbearable for the Ramstad family is that bullying has hit home in a tragic way. Alegra's cousin committed suicide a few years ago.
"She took her own life at 13, four years ago," said Ramstad.
She hopes the school will take her complaints of bullying seriously and stop putting kids in the detention room.
"You hope that people are going to listen, and people are going to care enough not to let terrible histories repeat themselves," said Ramstad.
The Douglas County School District General Counsel provided the following statement:
The safety of our students is of the utmost priority. However, because of the student privacy issues involved in this matter, we cannot discuss the specific facts underlying the allegations.
We can share that there is a private room in the main office at Rock Ridge Elementary School that is used appropriately for student detention and safety purposes. Photographic images of students in that room are not taken by staff. Additionally, the door to the room remains open at all times when a student is present. Students complete school work and are able to leave the room when needed. Further, parents are notified when their child is being placed in the private room, and are free to pick up their children from school on such occasions.
We are always committed to ensuring a safe learning environment for all students. The school welcomes the opportunity to meet with Rock Ridge families who have additional questions about student discipline policies. Most importantly, we will continue to seek the educational success of every child.