Isaiah Elliot, 12, was suspended for holding a toy gun on-screen during an online class. Isaiah attends Grand Mountain School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he was studying through remote instruction.
On August 27, Isaiah was in an online art class when his teacher saw him flash a toy gun across his computer screen. The toy gun is a neon green and black handgun with an orange tip. The words “Zombie Hunter” is printed on the toy’s side.
According to FOX31, the teacher notified the school principal, who placed a five-day suspension on Isaiah. The principal also called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a welfare check.
“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,” Isaiah’s father, Curtis Elliott, told FOX31.
Teacher “Assumed” Gun Was a Toy
His wife, Dani Elliot, was also furious they weren’t notified until deputies were dispatched to their home, FOX31 reports. Dani believes the situation could have been avoided if the school called them first.
According to FOX31, who obtained the sheriff’s report, the teacher “said she assumed it was a toy gun but was not certain.”
“For them to go as extreme as suspending him for five days, sending the police out, having the police threaten to press charges against him because they want to compare the virtual environment to the actual in-school environment is insane,” Dani said to FOX31.
The district refused to show the parents a recording of their son’s class, which was taken without their knowledge. However, a sheriff’s deputy showed a recording of the video through body cam footage to Isaiah’s father. Curtis described the video to FOX31, saying that the gun flashed across the screen for “one or two seconds at the most” as he moved it from his right side to his left.
Grand Mountain School’s Response
As news of Isaiah’s suspension spread, Grand Mountain School released a statement to their Facebook page, saying there were several inaccuracies being spread.
They wrote, “While we cannot get into details due to privacy laws, we want to clear up a few misconceptions. 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”
“The virtual setting is not the same as the school setting,” said Curtis. “He did not take the toy gun to school. He’s in the comfort of his own home. It’s a toy.”
More Guns on Zoom
Another Colorado student, 11-year-old Maddox Blow received a four-day suspension for handling his Airsoft gun during a Zoom class this week, FOX31 reports. Maddox is a sixth-grade student at Bell Middle School.
Maddox told FOX31 that he was waiting after finishing a quiz early and as he fiddled with things around him, he grabbed his Airsoft gun. While it was happening, his teacher didn’t notice him handling the toy. It wasn’t until she was reviewing the recorded session that she saw Maddox holding the gun and then alerted school officials.
According to the teacher, she saw him posing with what looked like a toy gun for a few minutes as well as putting in the gun clip on-camera. A school resource officer reported the incident to Wheat Ridge police and requested a welfare check.
His father, Justin Blow, thinks that the suspension was a “gross overreaction.” Maddox also emphasized that he knew how serious firearms were.
“I would never even bring a toy to the actual school because I know how serious that is. I was in my own home, and I felt that that was OK, and I thought that my camera was off too,” he said.