School Request Police Do a Wellness Check on a Black Student Before Suspending Him For Flashing a Toy Gun on Camera During At-Home Learning

School Request Police Do a Wellness Check on a Black Student Before Suspending Him For Flashing a Toy Gun on Camera During At-Home Learning

A 12-year-old boy was suspended from his Colorado school after he waved a toy gun in front of his web camera during his virtual art class. According to Buzzfeed, it was Isaiah Elliott‘s third day as a seventh-grader at Grand Mountain School in Colorado Springs.

As his mother explained it, Isaiah was attending art class from home on August 27 when he picked up a green toy gun that was sitting next to his computer and moved it over to the other said of his at-home desk. In the process of moving the toy from point A to point B, his art teacher saw the gun and eventually reported it.

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School Suspends Student from Distanced Learning Because of Toy Gun

Isaiah also has ADHD which the school has been made aware of and has written documentation of his diagnosis.

Once the class had finished, Isaiah’s mom told BuzzFeed that his art teacher had sent her an email telling her that Isaiah had been “extremely distracted” during the lesson. The teacher then wrote that there was “a very serious issue with waving around a toy gun.”

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After receiving the email, the mom learned that the school’s vice principal, Keri Lindaman, was also notified, after she received a call from Lindman, alerting her that a health and wellness check was requested and that the school resource officers would be by their home. “I had already explained to the teacher that it was a toy,” the mom told Buzzfeed. “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.”

Within hours after receiving the email and then the call, a police officer was at Elliott’s home. A redacted copy of the incident report obtained by KOAA News showed that the teacher told Lindaman “she assumed it was a toy gun” Isaiah was playing with “but was not certain.”

Once the officer arrived at the home, the officer reportedly told the boy’s father that the school had been recording each virtual class, thus Lindman has shown the officer the clip of the incident that resulted in his investigation. Because the officer’s body cam was turned on when he was shown the video, he was able to show the video to the boy’s father.

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“Having toys in my house is something I thought I never had to think of,” the mom told BuzzFeed. “It never crossed my mind that toys could be seen as a threat.”

Isaiah’s mom also told BuzzFeed that she had no idea the school was recording the class sessions, saying that is something “she never would have consented if she had known.” Isaiah was later suspended for his actions.

BuzzFeed shared the reason that was listed on the letter of suspension Isaiah received. It read that the 12-year-old was suspended for being in “violation of district or building policies or procedures” and “behavior on or off school property which is detrimental to the welfare, safety, or morals of other pupils or school personnel. […] Isaiah displayed and waved a firearm facsimile during a virtual classroom on Aug. 27, 2020.” 

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The mom believes the suspension notice reads as if Isaiah brought the toy gun to school and disrupted the class. However, that wasn’t the case.

“This could potentially impact his future… Look at everything that’s going on in the world today. 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.”

“Parents of African American children go above and beyond to protect our children and ensure their future,” she continued. “Until you’ve lived this life, until you’ve experienced discrimination and hardships that come along with being born a certain skin color, I thank God that it didn’t go another way and my son is still here with me.”

Shortly after news spread of Isaiah’s suspension, the school district took to its Facebook page to issue a statement about an issue that occurred during “distance learning.” According to BuzzFeed, no other details were divulged in the post that appears to have been deleted.

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Part of the statement reportedly read, “We never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination. Safety will always be number one for our students and staff.” The school also said that even though the platform they use for distance learning does have a feature that allows them to record classes, it is “not our current practice.”

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Although Isaiah’s suspension is expected to end on Friday, his parents have withdrawn him from the school. He is currently on the waiting list at a nearby charter school and his mom is looking into ways to keep him up to date on his learning during this unexpected period.

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