Ka’Mauri Harrison, the 9-year old from Harvey, Louisiana who was suspended from school after a teacher saw him briefly grab a BB gun from the floor of his bedroom and place it against a desk during an online class session, is now getting a first-hand civics lesson in how a bill becomes a law. On Wednesday the House Education Committee in the Louisiana legislature unanimously approved the “Ka’Mauri Harrison Act,” a piece of legislation that’s designed to prevent other students from being subjected to the same injustice that Harrison has experienced from his local school district.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, Ka’Mauri’s attorney Chelsea Cusimano joins me for a conversation about her client’s case and the legislative and legal response that’s followed his suspension. In addition to the lawsuit that the Harrison family has filed against the Jefferson Parish school district, Cusimano recently won a temporary injunction blocking the school system from conducting a social services assessment on the Harrison family.
That’s right. The school district actually wants to send a social worker to Ka’Mauri’s home because he picked up an unloaded BB gun from his bedroom floor and rested it against his desk so his younger brother wouldn’t trip over it. As you can imagine, the Harrison family is suspicious that the school system is now trying to retaliate against them for going public with their son’s case by trying to sic a social worker on the family of seven, but for now the school district has been thwarted, though another hearing in that case is scheduled for early November.
Cusimano says in the wake of the national attention that Harrison’s case has received, she’s heard from many other parents, including from others in Jefferson Parish but also from states as far away as New Jersey, with similar stories of their own. Most of these stories haven’t received any news attention at all, but Cusimano believes that many school districts around the country that are operating online are now viewing private homes as extensions of the school building itself, which is what led to Ka’Mauri being accused of violating the district’s policy of weapons possession on school property even though he was in the bedroom that he shares with his younger brother at the time of the incident.
The attorney suggests that parents be proactive in reaching out to their own local school districts to share Ka’Mauri’s story and urge the superintendent and school board to adopt specific policies for online learning that recognize that a private home is still a private home even when it’s connected via the Internet to an educator teaching a class via Zoom. I think that it would also be a good idea to contact your state representative and state senator and encourage them to introduce their own version of the Ka’Mauri Harrison Act, because this issue isn’t confined solely to the state of Louisiana.
By the way, if you want to help support the Harrison’s in their fight against the Jefferson Parish schools, a GoFundMe has been set up to do just that. We’ll be keeping an eye on the latest legislative and legal moves in Ka’Mauri’s case, and I hope to speak with the family before long on an upcoming episode of Cam & Co. as well.