HARVEY, La. (WGNO) – A fourth-grader from Louisiana was suspended for handling an air gun during a virtual classroom session, but a lawyer representing the student’s family says the punishment was too harsh.
Ka Mauri Harrison, 9, was in her bedroom taking a social studies test practically on the afternoon of 9/11 when the accident occurred, according to Chelsea attorney Brener Cusimano, who represents the Harrison family.
Harrison, who is one of five school-age children in the home enrolled in the Jefferson Parish Public School System, shares a bedroom with two of his siblings. One of those brothers stepped on or dropped a BB gun while Harrison was taking the test, Cusimano said.
Harrison took the BB gun, placed it in the chair next to him and continued to take the test, according to the family account.
Harrison’s teacher and classmates witnessed the incident through the distance learning video system used to administer the class. The teacher immediately intervened and Harrison was suspended from Woodmere Elementary that same day, according to Cusimano.
In a letter to the school district, Cusimano said she was unclear about the rules relating to handling BB guns during distance learning.
“Quickly, I went through the Jefferson parish school policies and procedures that were sent to me today and, in particular, the provision relating to bringing arms to a school and a recommendation for expulsion for the same,” Cusimano wrote. . “I simply cannot make a connection with what happened in Ka Mauri’s bedroom (in the safety of her own home) while she was taking a distance learning test and the Jefferson Parish School’s expulsion policy regarding weapons and ‘weapons prohibited by federal law’. “
According to school district records, Harrison was suspended for six days for “showing a facsimile weapon while receiving virtual instruction from Woodmere Elementary School.” Cusimano says the suspension actually went into effect earlier than the district claimed, adding several days to the punishment.
A letter to the Harrison family in the district quotes “Jefferson Parish Public School Policy and Procedures 2019-21 – Possession of a Starter Gun, Stun Gun and / or Facsimile”.
Cusimano says district policy does not explicitly take into account distance learning or what a student can do while in the privacy of their bedroom.
Jefferson Parish Schools Director of Communications, Vicki Bristol, declined to comment on the case.
“We don’t comment on individual student records,” Bristol said. “With regards to discipline, it is our policy that teachers and administrators may employ reasonable disciplinary and corrective measures to maintain order.”