A 12-year old boy was suspended for five days and had police threaten him with charges after waving a toy gun during an online class.
The student, Isaiah Elliott, was attending an August 27 online art class at Grand Mountain, a K-8 grade school in the Widefield district, when he waved a neon green and black toy handgun across the screen. The toy gun has the words “Zombie Hunter” printed on the side and a bright orange tip.
Isaiah’s father, Curtis Elliot, told FOX31 that Isaiah was moving the toy gun from his right side to his left side and was unaware that his teacher and other students attending the class had seen him move it across the screen.
But when the teacher spotted the toy gun, she notified the school principal who suspended Isaiah and called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a welfare check without calling Isaiah’s parents first.
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In the sheriff’s report the teacher “said she assumed it was a toy gun but was not certain.”
The sheriff’s report also described another student, who was a friend of Isaiah’s and in the home during the online class, handling the toy gun. According to the report, this student pointed the toy gun at the computer screen and pulled the trigger but it’s unclear if he knew he was being recorded or could be seen by a teacher.
This student and his mother were also visited by deputies at the request of the school.
Isaiah’s mother, Dani Elliott, said that after the police arrived to visit Isaiah, they threatened to press charges:
“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.”
Dani added that if the teacher’s main concern was 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.”
Isaiah’s parents also said their son was traumatized by the experience.
“He was in tears when the cops came,” Curtis said. “He was just in tears. He was scared. We all were scared. I literally was scared for his life.”
In addition to Isaiah being suspended and the police being called over the toy gun, Isaiah’s parents said that his online classes were being recorded without their consent.
Curtis said a sheriff’s deputy had shown him a video of the online class that was recorded on his body cam.
A post on the Grand Mountain School Facebook page addressing the incident stated:
“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.”
Curtis added: “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.”
Isaiah’s parents said that they intend to transfer Isaiah to a charter or private school.