Even from the comfort of their own homes, Black students are still not protected.
Not only did a Colorado school suspend a 12-year-old boy, but they also sent the police to his home after a teacher says she saw him “waving” a toy gun during a virtual class.
The seventh-grader, Isaiah Elliott, was attending an art class during his third day of school at Grand Mountain School in Colorado Springs. According to BuzzFeed News, his mother, Dani Elliott says he picked up a neon green toy gun and moved it from one side of his computer screen to the other.
His mother went on to explain that because of his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), her son often has trouble concentrating during classes. She also adds that the school “had been made well aware” of her son’s diagnosis and that Isaiah also has an IEP (Individualized Education Program) plan on file.
Elliott revealed she received an email from Isaiah’s art teacher sharing he had been “extremely distracted” at the time of the lesson. It was also reported that the teacher noted “a very serious issue with waving around a toy gun” to the school’s vice-principal.
Following the email, Elliott says she received a call from the school’s vice principal which informed her that a school resource officer from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office had been called to conduct a wellness check on Isaiah at his family’s home.
According to Elliott, she learned that the police were on their way an hour and a half after receiving the teacher’s email.
A redacted copy of the incident report obtained by KOAA News revealed that the teacher reportedly told principal, Keri Lindaman, that “she assumed it was a toy gun but was not certain.”
Once the officers arrived at the family home, they showed Dani’s husband footage from the incident that had been recorded by the teacher. Dani says she had not seen the video because the school refused to release it to her. She was also unaware the school had been recording virtual classes without informing the parents and shares that she would have never consented if she had known.
According to both her husband and Lindaman, the only thing that Isaish did was place the toy gun from the couch over to the other side of the computer screen.
Isaiah’s mother provided BuzzFeed news with her son’s official notice of suspension which said that he was guilty of “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.”
The document also says, “Isaiah displayed and waved a firearm facsimile during a virtual classroom on Aug. 27, 2020.”
Although the incident took place in their home, Elliott says the suspension notice was written in a way that made it seem as though 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 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.”
“How do I protect my son?” she said. “What do I have him do [when] playing with a toy in the privacy of your own home is a threat?”
We are so saddened to hear Isaiah had to experience this on top of the challenges that many students are facing as they adapt to this new virtual form of learning.