In a story that completely embodies the collision of liberal education, pandemic politics and the emasculation of adolescent boys, a distracted middle school kid has been suspended from virtual school for holding an obvious toy gun while inside of his own home.
Toy guns were once a staple of toy chests for boys and the tough-as-nails girls who could hang with the neighborhood rapscallions.
Playing cowboys-and-Indians or cops-and-robbers was the norm for generations of American kids.
But the world has changed, and apparently part of this new normal we all keep hearing about is playing out in Colorado — and the story wasn’t written by the creators of the animated show “South Park.”
Isaiah Elliott, a seventh-grader in Colorado Springs, was attending his third day of virtual learning at Grand Mountain School when he got himself into trouble.
Isaiah’s mother, Dani Elliott, told BuzzFeed News that her 12-year-old son has been diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Perhaps it can be blamed on the ADHD, or perhaps on Isaiah being a 12-year-old who has suddenly found himself attending class from home, but in either event, the child showed off “a neon green toy gun and moved it from one side of his computer screen to the other” during art class, BuzzFeed reported.
The offending firearm was a pretty underwhelming replica of an M1911 pistol with an orange tip, a lime green paint job and “Zombie Hunter” emblazoned on the side.
KDVR-TV reporter Rob Low shared an image of the pistol on Twitter:
Zombie Hunter toy gun gets 12-year old suspended in Colorado Springs. Isaiah Elliott never took the gun to school but teacher saw him move it across computer screen for a moment while he was in a virtual class from home. @kdvr investigates at 5. #KDVR pic.twitter.com/ka0bBljley
— Rob Low (@RobLowTV) September 3, 2020
Being that the gun was an obvious toy in the bedroom of a child, you’d think the blowback — if any — would be moderate.
That wasn’t the case.
BuzzFeed reported that immediately after class, Dani Elliott received an email from Isaiah’s art teacher informing her that her home-based and ADHD son was “extremely distracted” during the school lesson.
What did educators, politicians and health experts think would happen when they sentenced children to spend their school days at home while the adults were busy arguing over the politics of keeping them at home?
Kids were going to be distracted.
Isaiah’s “distraction,” though, was much more serious than a mere interruption, at least for those running Grand Mountain School.
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.
The boy’s mother was soon contacted by the school’s vice principal, who had already called county school resource officers — they were en route to comb through the Elliott household for a wellness check.
Isaiah’s “safety” was cited for the reason behind the school’s ordering of the intrusive visit.
Before El Paso County deputies had even arrived, Isaiah was hit with a five-day suspension from school.
How a school suspension works as punishment during virtual learning was not explained, and neither was the suspension to Isaiah’s parents: The school punished the 12-year-old without speaking to them.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
Dani Elliott told KDVR, “It would’ve been a lot easier for me to understand if my son had made a threat.”
“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,” she said.
“How do I protect my son, what do I have him do [when] playing with a toy in the privacy of your own home is a threat?” Isaiah’s mother said to BuzzFeed.
She was also peeved to learn that the school had been recording her son’s classes without informing her.
The school district described rumors about the incident and Isaiah’s suspension as inaccurate but would not comment further.
We only have Isaiah and Dani Elliott’s side of the story, and it doesn’t paint Grand Mountain School administrators in a very favorable light.
Per the BuzzFeed report, Isaiah’s suspension was due to a “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.”
“Having toys in my house is something I thought I never had to think of,” Dani Elliott said.
“It never crossed my mind that toys could be seen as a threat,” the ticked-off mother added.
She said Isaiah will not return to school in the district after the incident.
Can you blame her?
Hopefully, the family can take advantage of the charter school options in the area, of which there are several.
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