- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2020

A Baltimore mother is outraged after she says police showed up at her home last week to investigate a complaint from her son’s school over BB guns that were seen during a virtual learning lesson.

Courtney Lancaster, a Navy veteran, told a local Fox affiliate that her 11-year-old son, a fifth-grader at Seneca Elementary School, is a Boy Scout who is trained in archery and firearm safety and owns several BB guns.

Ms. Lancaster said her son keeps his bow and BB guns displayed on a wall in his bedroom, which was apparently within view during a recent Google Meet class, in which he had been enrolled since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms. Lancaster said police officers showed up at her home on June 1 after someone had complained to her son’s school.

“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 told WBFF. “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 continued. “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.”

Ms. Lancaster said the police left after about 20 minutes and determined no further action was necessary.

According to emails Ms. Lancaster provided to WBFF, a school administrator said a screenshot of the boy’s guns was taken during an online class. The Seneca Elementary principal was then notified, and a school safety officer called the police because the “weapons” were apparently not “secured.”

“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,” Ms. Lancaster said.

According to the emails, the school compared bringing a weapon to a virtual class to bringing a gun to school, WBFF reported.

Baltimore County Schools declined to address specifics but stated Wednesday that safety was its primary concern.

“Our longstanding policy is to not debate individual circumstances through the media,” the district said. “There are multiple ways for families to share concerns with us. In general terms, the safety of students and staff is our chief concern, whether we are meeting in classrooms or via continuity of learning.”

Ms. Lancaster said she’s now worried about privacy regarding her son’s education, and said the school refused to show her the screenshot of her son’s bedroom that prompted the police call.

“You have requested that the school provide a copy of the image that prompted police assistance,” school administrators said, according to the emails. “That photo is not considered a student record and is not subject to disclosure.”

Ms. Lancaster said she can no longer trust the school district.

“It’s absolutely scary to think about,” she 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?”

“Where are the lines drawn?” she added. “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.”

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