A 12-year-old Black boy was suspended from school and visited by the sheriff’s office after he was seen holding a toy gun in his online class, multiple reports say.
A teacher saw Isaiah Elliott, who had been playing with a friend, and notified school officials after she wasn’t sure whether or not it was a toy, according to the sheriff’s report.
Elliott’s father told Fox 5 San Diego that as an African American it was “frightening and upsetting” to have law enforcement arrive over the issue.
Elliott’s parents have criticized the school’s decision to escalate the situation to law enforcement before calling them to clear up any misunderstanding.
The school has issued a statement saying it is “consistent” in how it handles safeguarding and “never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination.”
A Colorado school called the sheriff and suspended a 12-year-old Black boy after he was seen with a toy gun in his Zoom class, according to multiple reports.
Isaiah Elliott, a seventh grader at Grand Mountain School in Colorado Springs, was attending an online art class on August 27 when he moved the toy across the screen, his family told BuzzFeed.
The gun itself is green and black, with a bright orange tip and the words “Zombie Hunter” printed on the side.
According to Elliott’s father Curtis, Elliott had moved picked up the toy gun from his right side to his left side, without realizing that his teacher and students could see it, KDVR reported.
A redacted report from El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said that Elliott and a friend had been playing during the class, which was recorded by the school.
One of the two children — it is unclear who — pointed it at the screen and pulled the trigger, according to the report. The footage at this point makes the toy appear like a black handgun, the report noted.
The school notified the sheriff’s office after the art teacher emailed the assistant principal about a student “waving around a toy gun,” according to the sheriff’s report. It added that the teacher had clarified that she thought it was a toy, but couldn’t be sure. Elliott was suspended for five days.
When Deputy Steven Paddack visited the Elliotts’ home for a welfare check, Isaiah was terrified, he told KDVR.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if they were going to bust down the door,” said Isaiah. “My heart was beating super fast.”
Paddack went on to tell the seventh grader that “this could potentially lead to criminal charges in the future,” and pressed him to pay attention to his studies, according to the deputy’s report.
“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,” father Curtis told Fox 5 San Diego.
Elliott’s mother Dani said that the principal’s office had only called her after they had escalated the situation to the sheriff’s office, BuzzFeed reported.
“I had already explained to the teacher that it was a toy,” Dani Elliott told the outlet. “I told [the assistant principal] that it was a toy. She admitted that she knew it was a toy but Isaiah’s safety was of the utmost importance.”
Dani Elliott told BuzzFeed that her son has ADHD and is easily distracted, a fact that she said the school was well aware of.
She also said that a phone call first could have cleared up any misunderstanding.
“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,” she told Fox 5 San Diego.
She said that the law enforcement visit was especially frightening to the family because Isaiah is the same age as Tamir Rice, who was shot by a police officer in 2014 while carrying a toy gun.
“I thank God that it didn’t go another way and my son is still here with me,” she told Buzzfeed.
The parents also told BuzzFeed that they were unaware classes were being recorded, and would not have given permission if they had known.
The school posted a statement on Facebook on September 3 saying that “several inaccuracies” were spreading on social media about the incident and that privacy laws prevent the school from going into details.
“We never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination,” the statement added. “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.”
Without making it clear whether classes had already been recorded, the statement said that during the first week of school, “we were still becoming familiar with [Zoom],” adding that it is not “current practice” to record classes.
“We will continue to support all families in our school to make sure they feel safe, respected, and educated,” it continued.
The school has now cancelled Isaiah’s suspension, but the Elliotts said that they are now looking for another school for him, according to BuzzFeed.
Insider has contacted the school for comment, but did not immediately receive a reply.
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