The parents of Kendrick Castillo, a student killed in the 2019 STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting, have not accepted a $387,000 settlement from the school.
The couple continues to reject the school's settlement offer in an effort to make the information they have gathered from the shooting public.
Court filings on behalf of John and Maria Castillo show the parents hope to bring light to the full set of events that resulted in Kendrick’s death with the goal of helping prevent future violence.
Kendrick, 18, lost his life when he tackled one of the shooters on May 7, 2019. The two students who attacked STEM are currently serving life sentences.
In February, Douglas County District Court Judge Jeffery Holmes ordered STEM to pay the Castillos $387,000, the maximum damages allowed under state law and the Claire Davis School Security Act, and ruled that STEM paying the damages is not an admission of liability.
Holmes’ order also said payment of the damages would preclude the need for a trial.
However, the Castillos told the court they aren’t looking for monetary relief, but want a jury trial for the purposes of hearing public testimony and receiving a judgement on STEM’s culpability. During the course of the lawsuit, STEM successfully fought to make a majority of the information presented confidential.
“John and Maria Castillo have succeeded in using the Claire Davis School Safety Act to find the truth about what led up to the mass shooting at STEM that their son Kendrick sacrificed his life to stop,” Dan Caplis, an attorney for the Castillos, told The Denver Post. “Now the Castillos want to share that evidence with the public so that all schools can learn the lessons from the STEM shooting and be safer moving forward.”
Caplis did not respond to interview requests from Colorado Community Media.
To address the issue of confidentiality, Holmes appointed a special master (a retired judge) to determine what information from the submitted evidence is confidential and what can be made public. The discussion started on March 22.
Nicole Bostel, the STEM spokesperson, said in a statement that the school has resisted making all of the information public because of concerns that it would result in privacy and security violations.
“With the release of certain documents, vital information and details about our current safety practices would be made public, leaving our students and staff vulnerable,” she said. “Additionally, some of the documents include information about students who were not involved in the incident on May 7, and releasing their information would be unfair and violate their privacy.”
However, Bostel said the school trusts the special master will “operate in the best interest of both the Castillos and STEM as we reach a resolution that satisfies both parties.”
“Our community is still healing from the events of May 7, and STEM is committed to ensuring that we continue that process forward,” she said.
Caplis told the Denver Post that regardless of the outcome of the meetings with the special master, the Castillos plan to appeal Holmes’ ruling in an attempt to go to trial.
Though the Castillos lawsuit originally also named the Douglas County School District as a defendant, Newsbreak reports that the Castillos and the school district settled in December with the district agreeing to release information related to the attack.