Virtual learning protections bill expected to be filed after BB gun suspension case

Updated: Oct. 4, 2020 at 8:06 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - It’s the school suspension that garnered attention from across the country, and attorney Chelsea Cusimano says that should show why the Jefferson Parish school district should expunge 9-year-old Ka Mauri Harrison’s school record.

“Not only is it wild outrageous heartbreaking and shocking it’s a waste of tax dollars,” she said. “This could happen to anyone, their child could go through this at the hands of a public school system in this case of showing them that there maybe no way to protect them without filing suit.”

In September, the Jefferson Parish school district suspended fourth-grader Ka Mauri Harrison from Woodmere Elementary who was learning virtually at the time.

The teacher spotted a BB gun on the screen. The district responded saying he violated federal weapons laws on campus because his room was an extension of the classroom. Harrison was suspended for six days, and after a failed appeals process, the family is now filing suit.

“They should’ve thought about the facts but they didn’t they handed them out in a robotic manner,” Cusimano said.

“You can only bang your head against the wall so hard and fight so hard for your clients due process rights at some point you have to say ok we’ll move onto the next level of review.”

Cusimano says Louisiana legislators are also paying attention to Ka Mauri’s case. She says they requested her collaboration on a bill expected to come before the special session.

“I think this bill is intended to say wait a minute stop applying you’re on campus policies and procedures to what’s happening in the privacy of people’s homes,” she said.

Cusimano says there are several elements to the bill yet to be presented, but says if Louisiana passes it, it will become one of the first states to affirm virtual learning protections for families.

“I think the statue it’s going to be broad enough to cover things in the background other than BB guns and cover situations we haven’t even thought about yet: prescription medication, nudity, anything that could happen in the privacy of one’s home. The other part that’s really important to me and important to the Harrison family as we hope it’s going to order every school system to sit down, write a virtual policy by the end of the year,” Cusimano said.

She says Ka Mauri’s now back in school with a bright future if only a federal weapons charge wasn’t on his record. “He’s just the sweetest kid he didn’t ask for this he doesn’t deserve this,” she said.

The bill is expected to be filed sometime tomorrow.

We reached out to the Jefferson Parish school district but were told they do not comment on individual student records.

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