A school in Colorado Springs suspended and called the police on a 12-year-old boy for playing with a toy gun during his virtual class. The vice principal of Grand Mountain School accused seventh-grader Isaiah Elliott of “waving around” the gun and suspended him from school for five days.
“Isaiah displayed and waved a firearm facsimile during a virtual classroom on Aug. 27, 2020,” the official statement of his suspension reads. However, Isaiah and his parents maintain that he had simply moved the toy — which was labeled “Zombie Hunter” — from one side of the couch to the other.
Vice Principal Keri Lindaman contacted school resource officers from the local county sheriff’s department and asked them to conduct a health and wellness check on Isaiah because of the toy gun. His parents — Dani and Curtis Elliott Jr. — say their son was terrified when deputies showed up at his house.
“I never thought, ‘You can’t play with a Nerf gun in your own home because somebody may perceive it as a threat and call the police on you,’” Dani told The Guardian.
Dani accused the school administrators of putting her son — who is Black — in danger by calling police to their home.
“With the cultural events going on right now — especially for young African Americans — you calling the police and telling them that he could have a gun, you put his life in jeopardy,” she told the outlet, adding that 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police in 2014 while holding a toy BB gun.
“[Isaiah] was in tears when the police came,” Dani told the Washington Post. “He was very scared. He said, ‘Mommy, I had butterflies in my stomach. I was scared and thought I was going to jail.’”
The school has since released a statement about the incident claiming that the vice principal was following safety protocol.
“We never have or ever will condone any form of racism or discrimination,” the statement said. “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.”
Isaiah was not charged with any crimes, but the incident did leave a mark on his disciplinary record. He was cited for bringing a “facsimile of a firearm to school,” despite the classroom being virtual. The child also now has a record with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. At the Elliotts’ home, deputies reportedly warned Isaiah that the could have faced criminal charges if he had brought the toy gun to school.
Speaking with The Guardian, Dani questioned why school administrators didn’t contact her before notifying the police. She says that after the whole ordeal, she and her husband are now considering moving Isaiah —who has ADHD — to a charter school that may be better equipped to fit his needs.