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The mother of an 11-year-old boy is furious after officials at a Maryland elementary school called police because they saw what turned out to be a BB gun in his room during a virtual class.
According to Fox45 in Baltimore, the child’s mother, Courtney Lancaster, a U.S. Navy vet, is warning other Baltimore County parents after the visit from police officers raised disturbing issues of privacy and safety during online learning courses as kids continue their educations from home because schools remain shuttered over coronavirus concerns.
Lancaster, after four years of active duty, said she is extensively familiar with firearms including their use and storage. Also, she told the local station that her son, a fifth-grader, is a Boy Scout who knows how to use and handle his BB guns.
“He’s just a very intellectual child, but he’s all boy as well. He loves to be outside and play and ride his bikes and that sort of thing,” Lancaster told Fox45’s Project Baltimore.
In his pursuit of becoming an Eagle Scout, Courtney says her son has learned how to shoot a BB gun and an airsoft gun. He’s also taken three levels of archery lessons. His mother says he stores his bow and guns on this wall in his bedroom. It’s never been a problem until June 1, when police pulled up outside her house.
Lancaster said she was initially very startled by the police visit.
“I had no idea what to think. I’ve never been in any legal trouble whatsoever. I’ve never had any negative encounter with law enforcement,” she said, noting she was at home as her son was engaged in online learning. “I had no idea. I really didn’t know what to think.”
“So, I answered the door. The police officer was, he was very nice. He explained to me that he was coming to address an issue with my son’s school,” she told Project Baltimore. “And then explained to me that he was here to search for weapons, in my home. And I consented to let him in. And then I, unfortunately, stood there and watched police officers enter my 11-year-old son’s bedroom.”
Lancaster said that someone had seen ‘guns’ in the boy’s room during a Google Meet class. The person took a screenshot of the boy’s room and sent it to school officials at Seneca Elementary, where the boy attends. She said the school’s safety officer then dialed the police.
“I felt violated as a parent, for my child, who’s standing there with police officers in his room, just to see the fear on his face,” she said, adding that officers were in her home for about 20 minutes and left without filing any charges after no violations were discovered.
But she wasn’t finished. She demanded to know more about the incident and was told she could not see the screenshot because it isn’t part of her son’s school record.
“It’s absolutely scary to think about,” Lancaster admitted. “Who are on these calls? Who do we have viewing your children and subsequently taking these screenshots that can be sent anywhere or used for any purpose?”
In a back-and-forth with school officials, Lancaster said the principal initially compared having a gun president during an online course was no different than bringing one to school.
“This is despicable,” Lancaster said. “I had no idea what in the world [the police visit] could be over? BB guns never even once entered my mind. How many 11-year-old boys have BB guns?”
She’s also upset that nobody at the school contacted her before they contacted and sent police.
“So, what are the parameters? Where are the lines drawn? If my son is sitting at the kitchen island next to a butcher block, does that constitute a weapon? It’s not allowed at school, right? So, would my home then be searched because he’s sitting next to a butcher block?” Lancaster reasoned. “I feel like parents need to be made aware of what the implications are, what the expectations are.”
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