A Colorado school district is facing heat online after a 12-year-old student was suspended and had local authorities called to his residence for a welfare check after a teacher saw him holding a toy gun during a virtual class, local media report.
According to local station KDVR, the student, Isaiah, was handed a five-day suspension recently after a teacher saw him holding a toy gun during a virtual class late last month.
After spotting the toy gun, which was black and green with an orange tip and had the words “Zombie Hunter” written on the side, the teacher reportedly got in touch with the school’s principal about the matter.
Isaiah, who is a seventh grader at Grand Mountain, near Colorado Springs, was suspended shortly after as result, according to the outlet. The principal also reportedly alerted the local sheriff’s office about the incident and asked for a welfare check to be carried out.
Isaiah's parents said they hadn’t been contacted by the school about the incident until after authorities had been called.
Curtis Elliot, the boy’s father, told the outlet the incident was “really frightening and upsetting for me as a parent, especially as the parent of an African American young man,” given the current climate in the country as widespread protests continue following the police killings of Black Americans.
“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,” Isaiah's mother, Dani Elliott, told the station.
“He was in tears when the cops came. He was just in tears. He was scared. We all were scared. I literally was scared for his life,” Curtis Elliott also said.
The parents said they were also unaware the school had been recording the online class their son was in. But they added that when they later asked school officials for the footage, they declined.
In a statement to the local station, the district said privacy laws prevent them “from sharing students’ personal information which includes disciplinary action.”
“We follow all school board policies whether we are in-person learning or distance learning. We take the safety of all our students and staff very seriously. Safety is always our number one priority,” the school continued.
The school also pushed back against criticism it has received recently and "inaccuracies" it said are "being spread on social media" in a Facebook post last week, saying: "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. We utilize our School Resource Officers, who are trusted and trained professionals who work in our schools with our children, to ensure safety," the school continued.
"The platforms we use for distance learning have the feature to record classes for educational purposes. During our first week of school, we were still becoming familiar with the platform. It is not our current practice to record classes at this time. Parents will be notified if that changes. We will continue to support all families in our school to make sure they feel safe, respected, and educated," it added.