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Community members dispute decision to suspend Colorado kid involved in displaying a toy gun during remote learning

A still frame of the moment a 12-year-old waved a toy gun during an online class.
A still frame of the moment a 12-year-old waved a toy gun during an online class.(EPSO)
Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 6:47 PM MDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2020 at 7:24 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office wants to provide more clarity on a case that has gained national attention after a boy was suspended for brandishing a toy gun during an online class. At the same time, a group of community members is hoping the Board of Education will overturn the decision to suspend one of the kid’s involved.

11 News spoke to the mother of one of the kids, who was in a remote learning class for Grand Mountain Elementary in Widefield School District 3 when the toy was displayed. The incident started making national headlines in early September. According to a report filed by the school resource officer, two 12-year-old boys were in an art class when the teacher says they both handled what looked like a toy gun. The teacher emailed the parents and told the school principal. The principal then called the sheriff’s office.

A deputy showed up to the homes of both children to make sure the gun was a toy.

“We take these situations seriously and we have to respond to circumstances such as these as public safety is our number one priority,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a post. “The school resource officer took the appropriate action and was kind and respectful throughout the interaction. His goal was to educate the involved parties.”

The mother of one of the children feels the school did not handle the incident properly. She explained her son had picked up the gun and moved it from one side to the other, just before the other boy was seen on video waving it in the air.

“From what the vice principal described to me, Isaiah’s only part in this was just to pick it up from one side and moving it to the other side so so it just quickly flashed across the screen,” Dani Elliott told KKTV reporter Ashley Franco. “The fact that they knew it was a toy gun, but yet they still have the cops come out and do what they told me was a health and welfare check on my child. Isaiah was very scared and shaken up during this time.”

Elliott believes authorities should have never been involved in this situation. 11 News reached out to the school for comment about the incident but they could not comment citing privacy reasons.

Isaiah was suspended for five days. We spoke to Elliott minutes after the body-worn camera footage was released on Sept. 10. She was not aware the footage was going be released to the public.

A group of community members is speaking out over the decision to suspend the Isaiah. About a dozen people gathered on Thursday at a Board of Education meeting for Widefield School District 3, they are hoping Isaiah’s record can be wiped clean and the suspension revoked. The district released a statement soon after to 11 News:

“We appreciate everyone who shared comments at the meeting,” wrote Sam Briggs, the director of communication for the school district. "Their voices were heard and our board and district have already begun to act on steps to move us forward in a positive direction. Many of those needed steps were heard tonight. The first step is to meet with the family. District administration is waiting for the family to finalize the scheduling of a meeting for us to address their concerns. It is our hope we can do that as soon as possible. "

The boy with the gun in the still image below is not the boy 11 News spoke to the family of. You can see the moment the toy was displayed at about 5:22 in the video released by the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office posted the following to Facebook in regards to the video they released.

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