Police in Baltimore County visited the home of a Navy veteran after receiving calls from the school resource officer regarding her 11-year old boy during a virtual classroom. The employee at Seneca Elementary decided to call the cops after receiving a tipoff regarding the presence of a BB gun during an online lesson. A snooping teacher saw the BB guns and captured a screenshot, which she shared with the school administrator. Ms. Courtney Lancaster told Project Baltimore that she felt violated after the visit.
The Navy veteran said she was shocked to see police knocking at her door because she never had any legal problems or hostile encounters with law enforcement.
"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," said Ms. Lancaster. "I had no idea. I really didn't know what to think."
The police said they needed to search her house for weapons. They proceeded to enter her son's rooms in search of firearms. The boy was devastatingly shocked on seeing the police officers enter his room. The law enforcement agents spent 20 minutes searching his room but found no violations.
"I thought this is outrageous. This is despicable," she said. "I had no idea what in the world could this be over? BB guns never even once entered my mind. How many 11-year-old boys have BB guns?"
Her fifth-grade son has several BB guns, is a boy scout, and intends to join the Eagle Scouts. Ms. Lancaster stores his BB guns on his wall. He is an outdoor child and has learnt to shoot BB gun and airsoft guns. Additionally, he has taken archery lessons.
The school prevented Ms. Lancaster from viewing the screenshot that had prompted a visit by the law enforcement the call saying that it was not part of the student's records. Courtney was worried about the privacy implications of her child, saying the screenshot could be used elsewhere. She was worried about the level of intrusion emanating from the online classes.
The school administrator had compared the display of firearms during the virtual lessons with taking a gun to school.
"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," Ms. Lancaster asked.
Although the school might have thought of the BB guns as real weapons, it was outrageous that the school did not confirm with the parent first. There is also a lack of clear boundaries regarding what information the teachers could collect during the online lessons.
Taking a screenshot of a person's private property and preventing them from viewing it opens a huge possibility of schools collecting information unrelated to learning.
Although the police visit ended without an incident, the same could not be guaranteed with similar encounters. Some people have ended up dead after police were called for minor reasons. Schools must practice due diligence before blowing minor issues out of proportion.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is pushing universal background checks in our state, and if left unchecked, it will not be long until we see bills like this getting traction in Austin. Texas is embarrassingly ranked 29th for gun rights, and with the help of the political elites in Austin, we will surely rank among New York, California, and Illinois if left to their own devices. Please join our fight today, and help us restore Texas' place as the standard for the U.S.
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