A Colorado school has suspended a pre-teen and sent authorities to his family’s home for waving a toy gun on screen during a virtual class.
The 12-year-old Isaiah Elliott was in the middle of his online art class through his Colorado Springs grade school on August 27 when he flashed the green-and-black mock gun, which bore the words “Zombie Hunter” and an orange tip to differentiate it from the real gun.
His teacher who was highly concerned notified the school’s principal, who suspended Elliott for five days and called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office without first talking to Elliott’s parents.
Dani Elliott, Isaiah’s mom 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,”
Instead, deputies came to the home to verify that the gun was fake and warn that Elliott desist from showing it during class again.
Elliott who was obviously traumatized said, “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if they were going to bust down the door. My heart was beating super fast.”
“I didn’t mean to put it across the camera or anything, I just wanted to move it across the couch.”
His father, Curtis Elliott, agreed that school officials have to understand that the virtual classes necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have brought teachers into students’ homes, where expectations must be different from classrooms.
“The virtual setting is not the same as the school setting. He did not take the toy gun to school. He’s in the comfort of his own home. It’s a toy,” he said
The dad added that he was particularly afraid for his son as a young black boy growing up in America.
“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, I literally was scared for his life.”
In a statement posted to Facebook, school officials declined to go into specifics for privacy reasons, but defended their handling of the situation.
“We never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination. Safety will always be number one for our students and staff.
“We follow board policies and safety protocols consistently, whether we are in-person or distance learning,” the statement reads.
“We will continue to support all families in our school to make sure they feel safe, respected, and educated,” it adds.