A Colorado student was recently suspended over a toy gun seen in an online art class. A deputy was sent to his home. Now his mother has taken him out of his K-8 school after the incident left her fearful for his safety.
“Having toys in my house is something I thought I never had to think of,” mother Dani Elliott told BuzzFeed News in a Sunday report. “It never crossed my mind that toys could be seen as a threat.”
Her son Isaiah Elliott, a seventh grader at Grand Mountain School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was suspended five days over the incident.
Two students, whose names were redacted, were seen playing with a handgun during an online art class, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office incident report (h/t KOAA). The assistant principal told deputies that according to the art teacher, one of the student’s waved “around a toy gun.” She said she asked for clarification, and the teacher said she assumed it was a toy gun but was not sure.
One of those children were Elliott. According to the assistant principal, his parents immediately voiced concern about her contacting law enforcement: “I can’t believe you called the police and [sic] a young African-American male in todays society with everything going on!” according to the complaint. They reportedly said, “the police would go kick down their door.”
Isaiah Elliott is Black.
At the end of it, the situation was resolved with no charges, but the deputy, a school resource officer for the school district, said he told the child that this was serious, and “could potentially lead to criminal charges in the future.”
Dani Elliott told BuzzFeed that her son had picked up his toy gun and moved it from one side of his computer screen. Her son has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and the school knew it, she said.
The toy was described in a KOAA report as an Umarex “Zombie Hunter” airsoft bb gun; it had a green barrel, and an orange tip.
Elliott brought up parallels with the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old shot and killed by police in Cleveland, Ohio when he was holding a toy gun.
“Especially with the current events, with Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy getting killed over a toy gun, you know these things are very scary and they’re very real,” Dani Elliott said. “This is not the first time my son has faced racism or discrimination or anything like that.”
She was now working getting her son a new school.
“If the school was so concerned with my son’s safety, why not just call me first,” she said. “If they were so concerned with his safety, why call the police and give them this preconceived notion that my son is some sort of trouble maker?”
Grand Mountain School obliquely addressed the incident in a statement to Facebook.
“We understand there are many questions regarding an incident that took place during distance learning,” they said. “There are also several inaccuracies being spread on social media. While we cannot get into details due to privacy laws, we want to clear up a few misconceptions. 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. We utilize our School Resource Officers, who are trusted and trained professionals who work in our schools with our children, to ensure safety.”
The parents also said they did not know that the school had been recording the inside of their homes. Dani Elliott said she would have never agreed to this had she known. According to the incident report, the assistant principal said that the incident was partially recorded, and that the online class rooms records the person speaking. According to the deputies, one of the students pointed what seemed to be a black handgun at the computer screen and pulled the trigger.
‘The platforms we use for distance learning have the feature to record classes for educational purposes,” Grand Mountain School said in their statement. “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 father Curtis Elliott reenacting the incident via KDVR]
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