A Colorado school district suspended a 12-year-old boy with learning disabilities for handling a toy gun during a virtual art class reported Fox News. Police were called to the boy’s home after a teacher reported the incident.
Isaiah Elliott, a seventh grader at the Grand Mountain School in Colorado Springs, CO picked up a neon green toy gun and moved it out of his way during the class, which was being conducted virtually due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The toy gun was clearly labeled “Zombie Hunter” on the side of the barrel. The teacher reported boy’s handling of the gun to vice principal Keri Lindaman, who then informed the police. Officers went to the Elliott home to conduct a “health and wellness check.”
Isaiah Elliott was in tears during the police visit, according to his father, Curtis Elliott. ‘He was scared. We all were scared. I literally was scared for his life,” he said.
The incident comes at a time when nationwide attention is focused on the deaths of a number of blacks at the hands of police officers. The boy’s father addressed this issue in an interview with Fox News 31 in Denver. “It was really frightening and upsetting for me as a parent, especially as the parent of an African-American young man, especially given what’s going on in our country right now,” the elder Elliott said.
Dani Elliott, Curtis’ wife and Isaiah’s mother, was angry about the incident as well. “For them to go as extreme as suspending him for five days, sending the police out, having the police threaten to press charges against him because they want to compare the virtual environment to the actual in-school environment is insane. I definitely feel they crossed the line,” she said. Dani Elliott continued, “’Having toys in my house is something I thought I never had to think of. It never crossed my mind that toys could be seen as a threat.’
According to an El Paso County Sheriff’s Office report of the incident, the art class’s teacher, who remains unidentified, “said she assumed it was a toy gun but was not certain.” Mrs. Elliott said, “If her main concern was his safety, a two-minute phone call to me or my husband could easily have alleviated this whole situation to where I told them it was fake.”
Grand Mountain School addressed the issue in a statement that read, in part, “We follow all school board policies whether we are in-person learning or distance learning. We take the safety of all our students and staff very seriously. Safety is always our number one priority.”
Interestingly, the school appears to have been recording their virtual classes without notifying parents of the practice. In a Facebook post the school wrote, “The platforms we use for distance learning have the feature to record classes for educational purposes. During our first week of school, we were still becoming familiar with the platform. It is not our current practice to record classes at this time. Parents will be notified if that changes. We will continue to support all families in our school to make sure they feel safe, respected, and educated.”
Isaiah Elliott’s suspension recently ended, but his parents will not be sending him back to the public school. They are currently looking to enroll the boy in either a charter or private school.