According to reports, a Colorado school suspended and called the local sheriff on a 12-year-old who flashed a toy gun on-screen during a virtual class session. The boy, Isaiah Elliott, pulled out the green-and-black mock gun, which bore the words “Zombie Hunter” during art class on August 27. The pre-teen’s teacher, concerned, called the principal who immediately suspended Elliott for five days. Elliott’s parents say they weren’t notified about the incident until after the suspension handed down.
“If her main concern was his 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,” said Isaiah’s mother Dani Elliott. When authorities arrived at the Elliotts’ home, they verified to make sure the gun was fake and warned against him showing it during class again. But Dani pointed out how traumatic the encounter with the sheriffs was for young Isaiah.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if they were going to bust down the door,” said Dani. “My heart was beating super fast.” According to Isaiah, he wasn’t trying to show off the toy but rather to move it which caused it to inadvertently appear on-screen. “I didn’t mean to put it across the camera or anything,” he said. “I just wanted to move it across the couch.”
Curtis Elliott, Isaiah’s father, told reporters that due to circumstances brought on by COVID-19, the rules on student conduct will necessarily have to change. “The virtual setting is not the same as the school setting,” he said. “He did not take the toy gun to school. He’s in the comfort of his own home. It’s a toy.”
He continued, “It was really frightening and upsetting for me as a parent, especially as the parent of an African-American young man, especially given what’s going on in our country right now,” adding, “I literally was scared for his life.”
A statement issued by the school read, in part, “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 will continue to support all families in our school to make sure they feel safe, respected, and educated,” the statement concluded.