Patterico's Pontifications


School Suspends Boy For Having Toy Gun During Zoom Class

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:35 am

[guest post by Dana]

As parents and grandparents across the country find themselves learning how to navigate online school with their young charges, you would think that school districts would recognize the critical roles they play in the student’s life and that being at home for online school is not the same as being physically at school. But if you thought that in this case, you’d be wrong:

A 12-year-old boy has been suspended for having a toy gun he never brought to school.

Isaiah Elliott attends Grand Mountain, a K-8 grade school in the Widefield District #3, just south of Colorado Springs.

On Thursday, Aug. 27, the seventh grader was attending on online art class when a teacher saw Isaiah flash a toy gun across his computer screen. The toy in question is a neon green and black handgun with an orange tip with the words “Zombie Hunter” printed on the side.

The teacher notified the school principal who suspended Isaiah for five days and called the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a welfare check on the boy without calling his parents first.

“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,” said Isaiah’s father, Curtis Elliott, in an exclusive interview with FOX31.

Curtis’ wife Dani Elliott was equally furious with the school’s decision to notify her, only after deputies were on their way to the family’s home.

“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,” said Dani Elliott.

And even more ridiculous, the report says that the teacher “assumed it was a toy gun” but couldn’t be positive that the neon green and black gun with “Zombie Hunter” painted on it wasn’t real.

More detail:

After the class concluded, Elliott said she received an email from her son’s art teacher saying that Isaiah had been “extremely distracted” during the lesson.

The teacher wrote that there had been “a very serious issue with waving around a toy gun,” which she had reported to the school’s vice principal, according to Elliott.

Soon after getting the email, Elliott said she received a call from Grand Mountain School vice principal Keri Lindaman informing her that she had called school resource officers from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a health and wellness check on Isaiah at the family’s home.

“I had already explained to the teacher that it was a toy,” Elliott said. “I told [Lindaman] that it was a toy. She admitted that she knew it was a toy but Isaiah’s safety was of the utmost importance.”

Elliott said she couldn’t believe that the school administration had escalated the situation without informing her or her husband.

The parents are understandably upset about the school district’s response as well as comments made to their son by the visiting law enforcement:

“I expressed the seriousness of the situation to [redacted] and explained how this could potentially lead to criminal charges in the future,” the sheriff’s deputy wrote in his incident report. “I reiterated the importance of being present and paying attention to his education classes while doing the online learning curriculum.”

The school district sought to defend their actions:

“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.”

How hard would it have been for the teacher to call Isaiah Elliot’s parents on the phone if she thought there was a problem? How hard would it have been to use plain old common sense rather than jump to conclusions and get law enforcement involved? But what I find even more disturbing is that the responsibility for disciplining a boy who is at home with a parent (although, according to reports, the dad had briefly left the home) belongs to the parents, first and foremost. The teacher’s and principal’s decision to bypass the parents and involve law enforcement was disrespectful to the parents and the unique role they hold in their child’s life as well as usurping their authority.

One of the comments that I commonly hear from parents, teachers, and administrators that I am in contact with, is that, in spite of the immense efforts of all parties involved, the Zoom classroom is simply not like a real classroom. Everything about the experience is different, and a lot of families are struggling with it. Everything from managing children, to using the technology successfully, to understanding expectations and being able to easily communicate with teachers are all part of the struggle.

With that, the report notes that a friend of Isaiah’s was in the home at the same time, and waved the toy gun at the screen. It is unknown whether he also received a suspension. The Elliots plan to transfer their son to a charter or private school.


26 Responses to “School Suspends Boy For Having Toy Gun During Zoom Class”

  1. Good morning.

    Dana (292df6)

  2. In one report I saw, the boy was described as African American. If the boy who was waving the gun was white, the school district has additional issues.

    harkin (cd4502)

  3. Isaiah Elliott is African-American. I did not see clarification about the other boy.

    Dana (292df6)

  4. I think they ought to suspend the school, its a toy gun for petes sake.

    Bolivar di griz (7404b5)

  5. x + internet < x

    beer ‘n pretzels (77090e)

  6. This makes sense to me if 1 of 3 things is true.

    1. The people at the school that did this are malicious and wanted to hurt this child because of something he did (such as play with a toy gun) or something he is (such as black)

    2. The people at the school that did this are stupid and just make terrible decisions.

    3. The people at the school that did this have incentives that drive them to follow a rigid and clearly documented process for any time there is the slightest chance of gun violence.

    I’m going with number 3.

    Time123 (af99e9)

  7. @6 Zero Tolerance… is Zero Tolerance.

    whembly (537f99)

  8. And most Americans trust these people to educate their children.

    Hoi Polloi (dc4124)

  9. the report says that the teacher “assumed it was a toy gun” but couldn’t be positive that the neon green and black gun with “Zombie Hunter” painted on it wasn’t real

    Teacher admits to being a moron. Good to know.

    Bored Lawyer (7b72ec)

  10. 6.

    It;s like this:

    1. Toy gun = real gun (at least maybe as far as scaring children)

    2. Virtual school = real school.

    Therefore possessing a toy gun in front of a camera is a violation of the rules.

    Nobody wants to be soft on gun violence.

    Sammy Finkelman (b66da2)

  11. Liberal America needs to consider the immortal words of Walt Kelly (American cartoonist and essayist)

    “We have met the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.”

    John B Boddie (bd03e4)

  12. Seventh-grader, not kindergartner. What is he doing playing with a toy gun while he’s supposed to be taking a class? Mama has nothing to b!tch about, if she won’t accept that part of the teachers’ babysitting responsibility during the Covid lockdown, and the school uses the police to do it for her.

    nk (1d9030)

  13. @12, NK that’s a really strange response.

    @6 Zero Tolerance… is Zero Tolerance.

    whembly (537f99) — 9/8/2020 @ 10:15 am

    Yes, plus at each step in the escalation you have to make a decision; “Do I pass along a concern and let the next person decide what to do? Or do I decide this isn’t a problem and take responsibility for what happens next?”

    It’s often easier for people to point to a piece of paper and say “I followed the process.” If we don’t like the results we have to change the process.

    Time123 (cd2ff4)

  14. Calling the cops before calling the parents makes the informer an idiot.

    harkin (cd4502)

  15. I’ll concede that there are no good guys here except possibly the police who might not have much of a choice in the matter when a school asks them to check on the welfare of a student.

    nk (1d9030)

  16. nk,

    My point is, make parents take responsibility for their kids. That is their job, and the role they signed up for. And let the bureaucrats stop assuming it is their job. Unfortunately, because so many parents abdicate their repsonsibilities to the schools, these officials are more than willing to take the reins. Stop usurping the parents’ authority and use common sense. That doesn’t seem hard to me.

    Dana (292df6)

  17. Why is this community putting up with these left wing fools and loons? They have utterly destroyed OUR educational system and turned it into an indoctrination cesspool.

    Why aren’t there huge protests everyday and everynight outside of this school? Silence has already destroyed us. First they came for the Jews.

    Florance Silverman (902f03)

  18. Kids goof off. Kids play with toy guns. The sending cops in to handle minor discipline is a bigger problem in schools than it should be, but this is a lot worse because it’s sending them to someone’s home.

    7th graders are 7th graders and there needs to be some way to keep them in line during the day, but there also needs to be a little common sense about it.

    I agree with time123 that some of the problem here is bureacracy refusing to take a risk, so they need a report and a referral instead of a short comment. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to discipline kids remotely, but not with cops.

    Dustin (1ea540)

  19. This is actually dumber than the $22 billion bullet train from Bakersfield to Merced, less than a 3 hour drive.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  20. Well, when I was teaching AP senior English in high school, I was called into the principal’s office and accused of showing pornography to my students.

    What??!! It was a King Arthur movie.

    “Where did you get this movie?”

    Um, from the school library. It’s in the curriculum guide (approved by the school board), and I put it in my lessons plans. Did you not read them?

    “One of your students says it was pornography.”

    Well, in the movie and in the story, Guinevere does have an adulterous affair with Lancelot, but there’s nothing graphic or explicit about it.

    “This student says it was pornography!”

    Thinking back, I should have walked out and sued the living sh!t out of the principal. I could have subpoenaed every principal, assistant principal, English teacher, librarian, superintendent, and school board member going back to when this video was first added to the curriculum guide. How many of them have been accused of being pornographers? I could have called forth the witness in question and her parents, and sued them as well, for libel, character assassination, defamation, the works.

    I followed the curriculum guide, wrote my lesson plan, checked out a movie from the school library, showed it to my classes, and suddenly I’m a pornographer? But no one else who did the same is.

    It would have been ugly, but I would have won that case, for a whole lot of money and ruined careers.

    I decided not to pursue that course, mainly because I was more concerned with taking care of my father, who was dying of cancer, in and out of the hospital.

    I simply resigned the next year and walked away. I do not need that kind of bullsh!t. Because that’s all it was, bovine feces, cow patties. I did not go to college and graduate school to shovel that.

    Compare that with a child playing with a toy guy at home while taking a Zoom class. They sent deputies after him! And, yeah, that’s kind of scary.

    But I was faced with loss of job, status, credibility, registered as a sex offender, for what? Showing a movie to my students that I checked out from the school library, according to the curriculum guide (approved by the school board)?

    Oh, I could have sued everyone in sight, and I would have won. But I had other necessary concerns.

    These are the kinds of problems teacher’s face every day. It’s not just the unruly students, their absent parents, it’s the idiotic bureaucracy, which has no concern for the welfare of the children, or their education, or their parents.

    I’ve lived it. I’ve worked it. And I am not going back again. I’ll just live out the rest of my life writing books about it, which I can only hope will cause the American people to take a pause.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  21. How do school rules work:

    Each state has a whole bunch of laws specific to schools. They are called different things in each state. In CA they are called Ed-code, but every state has something similar (I’m going to call them all ed-code, though, because it’s easier for me). They are legally binding for all schools through-out a state.

    Each school district has a school board that creates rules for their school district based on ed-code + community standards. Board Policies are individual to each district, but are binding for the schools in that district as long as they don’t contradict ed-code.

    Each school creates rules based on Ed-code and Board Policy and needs of the school. Those rules are binding for that school as long as they don’t contradict ed-code and board-policy.

    My best guess is that that district has a board policy for imitation firearms based on a Colorado education law 22-33-106 that says, in part

    “…(f) Carrying, using, actively displaying, or threatening with the use of a firearm facsimile that could reasonably be mistaken for an actual firearm in a school building or in or on school property. Each school district shall develop a policy that shall authorize a student to carry, bring, use, or possess a firearm facsimile on school property for either a school-related or a nonschool-related activity. Such policy shall also consider student violations under this section on a case-by-case basis using the individual facts and circumstances to determine whether suspension, expulsion, or any other disciplinary action, if any, is necessary.”

    The schools don’t have individual school rules for weapons or imitation weapons, those come from the board, they are part of board-policy. Probably what the board policy says that a teacher will contact an administrator who will contact the police and the parents. There probably isn’t anything about who should be contacted first. It also probably has a required number of suspension days for bringing an imitation firearm to class.

    In my experience, it is much simpler to get a hold of a school resource officer than it is to get a hold of the parents. I have, for example, made hundreds of phone calls in the last three weeks (no, I am not exaggerating). I have maybe reached a parent in a third to half the cases, and in many cases I have only reached a phone that says the voicemail is full and hangs up on me (I have, in the past, informed parents of this problem when I eventually reach them. I have been told they do it on purpose.)

    Do I think they made the right judgement in this case? IDK, there are circumstances that we don’t know about. There are any number of variables that could be in the background like a prior disciplinary record or statements made by the student or emphasis on excess caution from the district level or inability to reach the parents by phone immediately. I do think they probably followed their board policy to the letter and nobody has had time to adjust any of them yet to the distance learning circumstances.

    Most school weapons policies were developed with an abundance of caution for the safety of the other students.

    @17 Your education system is controlled by your school board, which is directly elected in local elections. If you hate your schools, it’s your own fault.

    Nic (896fdf)

  22. @20 No union? A teacher in my district would’ve grieved the hell out of that principal.

    Nic (896fdf)

  23. Teachers union is unfit to do business. Burn it down.

    mg (8cbc69)

  24. The elitist fringe of the democrats want to start a civil war using the poorly educated children their school systems produced.
    Teachers union must go.

    mg (8cbc69)

  25. @22 Of course I was a member of a union. It was sort of required, but really was more of a safeguard. Unions are rackets. Sure, I could have gone that route, called the Texas State Teacher’s Association, gotten a lawyer or hired one of my own, and sued. I would have won, no doubt, because all I did was follow the curriculum guide, write a lesson plan, and check out a movie from the school library, just like every other teacher before me had done. Were they all pornographers too?

    But there would have been no point to that. It would have taken months, probably years, to settle the case, which would have cost the district a whole lot of money. I had other things to worry about at the time–my father was dying, my mother was freaking out, so I had to take care of them more than reputation. I finished out my contract and resigned, with good reason, without causing a stir.

    My record remains unblemished. As I wrote in my letter of resignation to the superintendent, I had to resign so I could take care of my family in their time of need. Not because I was accused of being a pornographer. Had I done that, it would have followed me forever. Once accused, always expected.

    Here’s the thing though. The superintendent had been my principal when I was teaching junior high. He knew me and my family. In my 20+ years working in public education, he was the only principal I ever respected. This guy, he would show up early and went home late; he walked the halls every hour; he went into every classroom twice a day. This man was a principal. And he gave me a glowing review when I applied to graduate school, because he saw how I worked with children, and noted that more of my students passed the state exams than any other teacher.

    If I had gone to him directly and said, “Look, this principal is total @sshole and a complete failure.” He would have believed me, and fired him on the spot. Instead, I submitted a letter, explaining a family crisis as the reason for my resignation. He understood, and in fact resigned his position a few weeks later, for the same reason.

    So, that’s that. I went on to inherit a real estate empire, and the superintendent retired. No fuss, no muss.

    As for the principal in question, who cares or knows? He probably advanced in the school system, maybe now he’s some respected authority.

    I could have totally bankrupted him and ruined his reputation, but I took the easy way out. But that was only because I had one. What about all of the other teachers under his administration?

    Here’s the thing between me and this principal. We went to school together. I graduated with two bachelors degrees and a masters degree. He failed first year freshman English in college. Perhaps that was the reason for his resentment of me. I don’t know, and I don’t care.

    What I did was explain in writing my family suffering and my reason for resigning. I could have sued the living sh!t out of the @sshole principal, but there really wouldn’t be any point to that, would there?

    Besides, I have a whole lot more money than he can even wet dream of.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  26. @25 As long as you are happy with the results, more power to you.

    Nic (896fdf)

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