BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A Louisiana House panel advanced legislation Wednesday that would make public schools clarify their disciplinary policies for online learning.
The bill, if passed by the full House and Senate, would be called the “Ka’Mauri Harrison Act,” named after a Jefferson Parish fourth grader suspended in September for having a visible Daisy BB gun in his bedroom during a virtual class. (The gun was a gift for his ninth birthday.)
“I wanted to go back to school,” Harrison said. “I was bored.”
Harrison, who attends Woodmere Elementary School in Harvey, says he picked his gun up from the floor after a sibling tripped on it. His teacher verified that account but reported him to administrators, who recommended he be expelled — as if he had carried a gun in a physical classroom.
“You have to answer questions like that on job applications, on college applications,” state solicitor general Liz Murrill said. “There are so many ways this will affect their futures.”
The Jefferson Parish school district ultimately suspended Harrison for six days, though the gun report remains on his permanent record. Efforts to appeal Harrison’s charge have been unsuccessful, since administrators claimed they had already reduced his penalty. The bill — by state Rep. Troy Romero (R-Jennings) — would let students threatened with expulsion keep appealing, even if a school lowers its punishment.
Harrison’s father, Nyron, is suing the parish school system for its stance. He hopes Romero’s bill, if passed, will show a court that his case holds legislative water.
“I’ve got the whole world supporting my son,” said the father, holding back tears. “There are children all over the world that this bill is going to help.”
“We can’t undo what’s happened since September, but we can clear this child’s record,” Harrison family attorney Chelsea Cusimano said. “That would be a great step in the right direction.”
The House panel erupted in a rare applause before moving the bill without objection. Committee members praised the young man and his father, whose decision to seek legal help propelled their case.
“Continue to make some good trouble,” state Rep. Patrick Jefferson (D-Homer) told Ka’Mauri, referencing a term coined by late congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, who died in July.