In Colorado, a 12-year-old was suspended for five days after police were called to his family’s home for allegedly “waving” a toy gun during a virtual class.
Isaiah Elliott, a Grand Mountain School seventh grader in Colorado Springs, was part of a distance learning art class on August 27. His mother, Dani Elliott, told BuzzFeed, that her son picked up a neon green toy gun and flashed it from one side of his computer screen to the other.
According to Elliottt, Isaiah has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and often has trouble concentrating in class. She also says the school has previously been notified of his condition and that Isaiah has an IEP (Individualized Education Program) plan on file.
In an email to Dani Elliott, Isaiah’s teacher wrote that there had been “a very serious issue with waving around a toy gun,” which she had reported to the school’s vice principal.
Subsequently, Grand Mountain School Vice Principal Keri Lindaman informed Elliott that school resource officers from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office had been called to the family’s home for a health and wellness check.
“I had already explained to the teacher that it was a toy,” Elliott said. “I told [Lindaman] that it was a toy. She admitted that she knew it was a toy but Isaiah’s safety was of the utmost importance.”
Elliott says she or her husband should have been the first point of contact, instead of the police.
“An hour and a half after receiving [the teacher’s] email, I found out that the police were on their way,” she added.
An incident report obtained by KOAA News claims Lindaman “assumed” it was a toy gun but was “not certain.”
“I had to logically think out, ‘How do I protect my son, what do I have him do [when] playing with a toy in the privacy of your own home is a threat?’” Curtis Elliott, Isaiah’s father and Dani’s husband, said to BuzzFeed.
In a statement posted to Facebook on Thursday (September 3), Grand Mountain School claimed there were “several inaccuracies” spread by social media over “an incident that took place during distance learning,” but declined to describe those inaccuracies due to privacy laws.
“We never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination,” the post reads in-part.
“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.”
Elliott says that the suspension notice was written as if Isaiah had brought the toy gun to school and disrupted his class.
“This could potentially impact his future... look at everything that’s going on in the world today,” Dani Eliott said. “God forbid something happens to my son down the road, people could look at this and decide he doesn’t deserve justice. I know that sounds extreme... it’s a very real reality for us.”
While Isaiah’s suspension ended on Friday, Elliott claims she “has no intention of him going back” and will formally withdraw him from the school on Tuesday.