A Colorado school district suspended a student for five days and called the police last week for allegedly pointing and “waving” a toy gun during an online video class, according to local media.
Isaiah Elliott, 12, was virtually attending an art class at Grand Mountain School in Colorado Springs when his teacher says she saw him, along with one of his friends, playing with a toy gun. The teacher, Danielle Selke, contacted the vice principal, Keri Lindaman. The principal contacted the school resource officer who requested a deputy from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office visit the home.
Elliott’s mother, Dani Elliott, was not there when the police arrived at her home, and she told KOAA that she feared for her son’s life when she found out the police had been called.
“Especially with the current events, with Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy getting killed over a toy gun, you know these things are very scary and they’re very real,” she said. “This is not the first time my son has faced racism or discrimination or anything like that.”
She wondered why the school didn’t simply call and talk to her about the incident rather than calling the police.
“If the school was so concerned with my son’s safety, why not just call me first. If they were so concerned with his safety, why call the police and give them this preconceived notion that my son is some sort of trouble maker?” she asked.
There is some discrepancy between what Dani Elliott claims happened during class and what the school district and sheriff’s office claim.
According to a redacted incident report obtained by KOAA, the recording “clearly” shows Isaiah Elliott and his friend “playing around and pointing what appears to be a black handgun at the computer screen and pulling the trigger. On the video, is [sic] hear saying something to about a ‘pistol’ and ‘grabbing his BB’s.’”
But Dani Elliott told BuzzFeed News that both her husband and Lindaman told her that Isaiah just picked up the toy gun from the couch and moved it from one side of the screen to the other.
The school district was recording the class, but they have not made the recording public, and Dani Elliott says she hasn’t seen it.
In addition, while Dani Elliott claims that Lindaman acknowledged that she knew it was a toy gun, Lindaman told the sheriff’s deputy that “she assumed it was a toy gun but was not certain.”
When Deputy Steven Paddack arrived at the Elliott residence, he spoke with Isaiah’s father, Curtis Elliott, about the alleged incident. He confirmed the gun was a toy, and “expressed the seriousness of the situation,” according to his incident report.
He also told Cutis Elliott that if his son’s actions continue, he could potentially face criminal charges “for Interference with staff, faculty, or students of educational institutions.”
Isaiah Elliott was suspended for five days. In his notice of suspension, which Dani Elliott provided to BuzzFeed News, the school said 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.”
This isn’t the first time a school has requested law enforcement involvement for the appearance of a toy gun during on online class.
Earlier this year, the police were called to a home in Pennsylvania after a parent spotted a toy gun in the background of a student’s screen. The child did not receive disciplinary action, but his parents reported that the police visit left him terrified.