EAST AMHERST, N.Y. — The Williamsville Central School District concluded its investigation into the Jamey Rodemeyer case last week by suspending some North High School students after Amherst police closed their criminal investigation Nov. 22 without filing charges.
“[The police] shared some information with us, and we followed up,” Superintendent Scott Martzloff said. “We made the determination to take disciplinary action.”
He declined to say how many students were suspended. Though based on Amherst police findings, it’s likely that several of Jamey’s classmates were sanctioned.
Regarding the severity of punishments these students received, Martzloff said only that the students face “a minimum of suspensions.” That implies at least short-term suspensions of up to five days, with the possibility of long-term suspensions subject to a hearing. Expulsion is not an option for students of this age.
Martzloff said that after following up on the police findings, the district issued the student sanctions Wednesday.
“We want to thank the Amherst Police Department for their thorough investigation,” he said, “and our condolences continue to go out to the Rodemeyer family.”
Although the Williamsville Central School District has received a lot of attention because Jamey was a North High freshman at the time of his death, police, school and legal officials have said the reasons behind Jamey’s suicide appear far broader than just bullying by classmates.
Jamey had also blogged about experiencing a variety of personal problems in his life outside of school in the weeks leading up to his death.
Police Chief John C. Askey had previously stated that his department’s investigation turned up five incidents of alleged bullying at Williamsville North involving Jamey. The freshman killed himself Sept. 18 after complaining in online videos and posts about being bullied over his sexual orientation.
Askey said none of the incidents at North High were brought to the school’s attention or Jamey’s parents’ attention until after Jamey had died and police began investigating.
The district based its disciplinary actions on the Amherst Police Department’s incident findings, previously reported by The Buffalo News. Among them:
- A witness said one female classmate who had known Jamey since middle school told Jamey something along the lines of, “Faggot, why don’t you just kill yourself?” This student’s family hired a lawyer shortly after she began being questioned by police.
- In a separate incident, the same student later told Jamey something like, “You’re a faggot.”
- Another identified student pushed Jamey as he passed him in the hallway and called him a fag.
- Yet another identified student made “an inappropriate comment” to Jamey regarding his sexual orientation, Askey said.
Jamey had previously reported in his blog that a group of North classmates had spit on a plate of brownies and given them to him in the cafeteria. Askey said investigators found no witnesses who actually saw any brownies being spit on.
The disciplinary actions taken last week are not the first the Williamsville school district has meted out in relation to Jamey’s case.
In September, a female student was suspended for telling friends of Jamey’s sister, Alyssa, at an outdoor homecoming dance that she was glad Jamey was dead. The same student was referenced in at least two of the bullying incidents involving Jamey that police investigated.
Reprinted by permission.