Jefferson Parish School Board leaves boy’s BB-gun suspension in place

    BRIEF

    Ka'Mauri Harrison (maroon shirt) and his family meet with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry in the Landry's office Sept. 28, 2020. Landry was a vocal critic of the Jefferson Parish school system's decision to suspend Ka'Mauri for having a BB gun visible in his bedroom while he virtually attended his 4th-grade class. (Photo courtesy attorney Chelsea Cusimano)

    A Jefferson Parish School Board’s member’s motion to rescind the suspension of a 9-year-old Jefferson Parish boy who inadvertently placed a BB gun in view of his online classroom was pulled by its author during a board meeting Wednesday. That means a 3-day suspension from school remains on Ka’Mauri Harrison’s school record. 

    Board member Billy North made a motion in April to lift Ka’Mauri’s suspension, and the board was expected to consider it Wednesday night.

    On Sept. 11, while Ka’Mauri was taking a test for his online class, his little brother tripped over a BB gun. Ka’Mauri moved the BB gun out of the way but put it in a place where it could be seen on the screen of his virtual class. Accused of displaying “a facsimile weapon while receiving virtual instruction,” he was initially recommended for expulsion but was eventually suspended for six days.

    His cause was embraced by state politicians from both parties who considered the incident a non-offense and the punishment an outrage. Looking for change, Ka’Mauri and his father testified in front of the Louisiana House Education Committee in favor of HB 83, or “The Ka’Mauri Harrison Act.” That bill, which passed the Louisiana Legislature with no opposition, gave the Harrison family the right to appeal the suspension and gave the school board the right to “affirm, modify, or reverse the action previously taken.”

    Ka’Mauri appealed the decision, but the board affirmed the suspension in December but reduced the number of days to three.

    The Harrisons then filed suit against the School Board, which was later joined by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and the ACLU.

    Chelsea Cusimano, the attorney representing the Harrisons, couldn’t be reached for comment.