WDSU Investigates: 9-year-old Jefferson Parish virtual student suspended for on-campus weapons violation

Nine-year-old Ka Mauri Harrison’s parents opted to begin his fourth grade school year virtually, because of the risk of coronavirus. They said he was suspended in September after a BB gun was spotted in his bedroom during his online class.

“My brother walked in the room and tripped over the BB gun and I put it on the side of me,” Ka Mauri said.

His father, Nyron, said the handle could still be seen in the computer screen before Ka Mauri was kicked offline.

Ka Mauri was immediately suspended, Nyron said, and faced expulsion. At the disciplinary hearing, Nyron said Ka Mauri’s teacher’s account matched his son’s. The hearing officer determined “Ka Mauri Harrison is guilty of displaying a facsimile weapon while receiving virtual instruction from Woodmere Elementary School.” They suspended him for six days.

The Louisiana Department of Education School Behavior Report reviewed by WDSU lists the incident as “possesses weapons prohibited under federal law.” It identifies the suspension and also recommends expulsion.

Attorney Chelsea Cusimano represents the Harrison family.

“This is a terrible overreaction,” Cusimano said. “This is not a child bringing a weapon to school. This was a toy that was in his bedroom. This would be the same as if you had two siblings in a room and one’s ADHD medication was in the background and that child’s getting charged with a drug charge.”

Cusimano said the Jefferson Parish Public School System launched an online education platform without a rule book.

WDSU asked the school system if it has a policy related to weapons in virtual school, but its response did not answer that question or identify any weapons policies for online learners.

In a statement, Jefferson Parish Schools director of communications Vicki Bristol wrote: “We do not comment on individual student records. Regarding discipline, it is our policy that teachers and administrators may employ reasonable disciplinary and corrective measures to maintain order.”

The Harrisons hope to have Ka Mauri’s suspension reversed and clear the weapons violation from his permanent school record.

READ MORE:WDSU Investigates: 9-year-old Jefferson Parish virtual student suspended for on-campus weapons violation

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