The family of Ka’Mauri Harrison is suing a New Orleans area school district after he was suspended for picking up a BB gun during virtual class.
On September 11, 9-year-old Ka’Mauri, who is African American, was taking a test in the bedroom he shares with his two younger brothers.
While Ka’Mauri was in class taking a test, his younger brother came into the room and tripped over a BB gun that was lying on the floor, according to a lawsuit the family filed on Friday in Louisiana’s 24th Judicial District Court.
According to the lawsuit filed against the Jefferson Parish school district and some staff members:
Ka’ Mauri picked up the toy BB gun, crossed it over his body (passing the screen) and moved it out of his younger brother’s way.
Ka’Mauri never pointed the BB gun at the screen, and he did not say a word to the class or his teacher.
There is no evidence that Ka’Mauri was even aware that it had been seen. Ka’Mauri believed he was doing the right thing, and he had no intent for his BB gun to appear on the computer screen.
Ka’Mauri Harrison was suspended for six days for what the Jefferson Parish Public School System claims was a violation of its policy forbidding weapons at school.
He was not at school though… he was in his bedroom.
Ka’Mauri’s teacher, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, told his mother that she thought she saw him with a rifle.
The behavior report states that Ka’Mauri got out of his seat and when he returned “he had what appears to be a full-sized rifle in his possession.”
“He placed it on the side of his chair so that we could only see the barrel,” the report states.
The report also states that the teacher tried to get Ka’Mauri’s attention, but she was unable to because Ka’Mauri had muted his computer to focus on his test. Then the computer screen went dark and the teacher contacted the principal.
Chelsea Cusimano, the Harrison family attorney, told NBC News on Tuesday that the school initially wanted to expel Ka’Mauri, but during a September 22 hearing they decided to suspend him instead.
“We have a child, who is a good child, that wasn’t doing anything intentionally and the grown-ups in the room failed him,” Cusimano said in a phone interview.
Attorney General Jeff Landry is investigating the incident, he met with Ka’Mauri’s family and said it was “appalling” the child was not given a chance to appeal the suspension.
“Ka’Mauri is a bright young man with a great family; and the fact that he was recommended for expulsion, received a suspension, and not given his right to appeal is appalling,” he wrote. “Ka’Mauri was not only deprived of educational instruction, he was also denied opportunity.”
Alan Odoms, the executive director of ACLU of Louisiana, stated the suspension was an “excessive and unjustified punishment that reflects the deeply-rooted racism that criminalizes Black students and fuels the school-to-prison pipeline.”
“This incident is a reminder of the systemic racism Black students experience each and every day – and it cannot be tolerated any longer,” Odoms continued.
The lawsuit names the school board, the superintendent, the elementary school principal, a hearing officer and the district’s attorney. The lawsuit states the defendants failed to provide Ka’Mauri the right to appeal his suspension, which ended on September 24th.
The Harrison family is seeking damages and they want their son to be allowed to make up the work he missed during his suspension. They are also calling for the school board to conduct a hearing on the administrator who disciplined their son.
This incident could’ve been easily avoided by the school simply having a conversation with the parents, but I guess that makes too much sense.
See the news report in the video below:
Sources: Today & NBCNews.com