During an online call from his home, an 11-year-old boy was unaware that his teacher could see his BB gun in his bedroom and had snapped a screenshot. However, within minutes, the boy’s mother was shocked to find the police at her door.
Courtney Lancaster is no stranger to firearms. The Navy veteran has passed down her knowledge of gun safety to her children, including her 11-year-old son, who is a boy scout and fifth-grader at Seneca Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland. As such, the boy has been training with BB guns in an effort to earn his promotion to Eagle Scout. Unfortunately, it was the family’s responsible and legal gun ownership that landed her child in hot water.
While speaking with his teacher during an online meeting, the boy had no idea that the educator had spotted his BB gun mounted on his bedroom wall and had secretly taken a screenshot of the child, his room, and his toy. The school’s next move would leave the entire family in disbelief.
According to WBFF, Lancaster answered a knock at the door to find that the teacher had called the police on her, reporting that she had weapons in her home around her child. The mother agreed to allow the officers to search her home without a warrant in order to clear up the misunderstanding, showing them that the “weapon” in question was her son’s unloaded BB gun.
“While my son was on a zoom call, a ‘concerned parent’ and subsequently two teachers saw his properly stowed and mounted RED RIDER BB GUN and one other BB gun in the background,” Lancaster wrote on Facebook. “He was not holding them and never intentionally showed them on video. In fact, he was oblivious that they could even be seen in the background. From the angle in which he was on video, it was not even evident which room of MY HOME he was in. So Principal Jason Feiler decided it best to call the police to have my home searched for dangerous weapons.”
Lancaster explained on social media that the officers were “appalled” that the principal had reported such an incident. She added that they even praised her son for his handling of his BB gun and an airsoft gun.
“The officers that responded were appalled at the call and even commended the set up that my son has for his TOYS and commended him also on his respect and understanding of the BB guns! He is a boy scout. He is an outdoors/all-boy kind of kid and as his parents and by way of legal rights, he is allowed to own said guns,” she continued.
Although the situation was resolved with the police, the school’s principal wasn’t as understanding. Instead, Feiler defended his decision to call the police on Lancaster, arguing that a teacher seeing a BB gun in the student’s home is comparable to the child bringing a weapon onto school property.
“The Principal and his teacher, cited that ‘just as he cannot BRING guns to school, he cannot BRING them to virtual meetings as well and this is in the handbook.’ After a close review of the handbook, it DOES NOT ADDRESS ANYTHING REGARDING VIRTUAL LEARNING!” Lancaster wrote.
Lancaster explained that, after a 20-minute search, the police found nothing in her home that broke any law or presented a danger to her children. They promptly left without further incident.
Understandably, Lancaster is livid over the school’s decision to call the police instead of addressing their issue with her first. Additionally, she still isn’t clear on what policy her son violated.
“It’s absolutely scary to think about,” Courtney said. “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?”
Lancaster says that she won’t allow her children to participate in any further virtual meetings with school officials. Disturbingly, the screenshots that were taken of her son and his bedroom are still in the hands of school administrators who won’t allow the mother to view them.
“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,” Courtney said. “I feel like parents need to be made aware of what the implications are, what the expectations are.”
The school has refused to comment on the issue, stating that they cannot discuss private matters regarding students. However, they argued that “the safety of students and staff” is their top priority, including in cases of virtual meetings.
At a time in which our world revolves around technology, individuals must be more careful than ever before when it comes to protecting their privacy.