Updated: Sep 12, 2020
The story has been making headlines for days now:
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.
11 News covered the story last week and spoke to the mother of the 12-year-old child who was suspended from Grand Mountain Elementary in Widefield School District 3. 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 were both waving what looked like a toy gun around. 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.”
In our prior article, we had been focusing on the teacher herself, which it appears the teacher first reached out to the child’s parents (emails obtained via FOIA by Mom-At-Arms). In our communications with the school district, they were very responsive and obliged by the CORA/FOIA request without hesitation (due to threats the staff has been receiving which is mentioned in our email communications, we asked to have redactions in place, even though most requests are fulfilled with names and emails, our intent is to investigate the situation itself, not individual people).
The email also was CC’d to other district staff, which is seen here:
This seems to mostly match the police report taken regarding the incident:
So, the events are as follows:
Art teacher emailed parents about incident
CC’d individual in the district responds to art teacher minutes after email is sent to parents
About an hour and 20 minutes after art teacher sent email, parents respond and state the gun is in fact a toy and that their child will be monitored more closely during school e-learning hours.
At some point during all of this, the Assistant Principal contacted parents (due to the tone of AP’s statements about parents’ response, it would have to be after parents sent email response to art teacher, although it’s not clear)
Around the same time the parents’ responded to art teacher, the Sheriff‘s office (SRO?) gets a text and heads to the school.
Even though the parents confirmed the toy gun was in fact a toy, the SRO/Sheriff’s office still went to check
The incident in terms of the “gun” should have been over as soon as the parents confirmed it was a toy to the art teacher before the Sheriff’s Office/SRO arrived at the school to view the recording and get more info. It’s their home and it’s not illegal or dangerous for a 12 year old to have a toy gun. The results of the whole incident and reaction to it has caused the child some distress and he was suspended just because a Zombie Hunter airsoft gun was in his possession in his own home. One could hope that this incident is something that can be avoided in the future, as no one was in any danger at any time. It was an overreaction. School districts need to realize that the new learning environment is different than if it was on campus. Should the child’s parents have been notified of the behavior/disruption? Sure, and the art teacher did so and offered help in the future. The district dropped the ball apparently by continuing to escalate the situation.
Be it noted that unlike STEM in Highlands Ranch, CO (some MAA investigators before that came to MAA later still got it done), Widefield School District 3 did not attempt to stonewall or drag their feet. They were quick to respond and communicated well.