isaiah elliot toy gun suspension

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Black student suspended over toy gun seen during Zoom class

The school also called officers to his home.

Sep 8, 2020, 4:50 pm*



Moises Mendez II

A Black 12-year-old was suspended from school and had officers called to his home after moving “a neon toy gun” across his computer screen during his Zoom class.

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12-year-old Isaiah Elliott was in virtual art class at Grand Mountain School in Colorado when the teacher saw his "Zombie Hunter" gun as he moved it. The teacher then emailed his mother, Dani Elliott, and reportedly said there was “a very serious issue with waving around a toy gun” and that she reported what happened to the vice principal, Keri Lindaman.

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In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Elliott said she told the principal and teacher that the gun was only a toy. “(The principal) admitted that she knew it was a toy but Isaiah’s safety was of the utmost importance. An hour and a half after receiving [the teacher’s] email, I found out that the police were on their way,” she told BuzzFeed News.

Elliott told the outlet that her son has ADHD and that the school was aware of his diagnosis. She said he has trouble concentrating during classes, noting the teacher said in her email he was “extremely distracted" during art class.

BuzzFeed News obtained a redacted copy of the incident report, in which the teacher told the vice principal that she wasn’t “certain” it was a toy gun.

Isaiah’s father, Curtis Elliott, watched a recording of the Zoom class via a resource officer's body camera. “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," he told KDVR.

The school put out a statement, stating it wanted to clear up any “misconceptions” that are “being spread on social media.” 

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“We never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination,” it wrote in the statement. “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 utilize our School Resource Officers, who are trusted and trained professionals who work in our schools with our children, to ensure safety.”

It also stated that the lessons are being recorded for “educational purposes.”

BuzzFeed News reported that Isaiah was suspended for “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.”

His mom told BuzzFeed News that she is afraid this incident could be used against him should something happen to him in the future. “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,” she said.

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*First Published: Sep 8, 2020, 4:48 pm