HARVEY, La. — A 9-year-old boy at a Louisiana elementary school was suspended for six days after his teacher spotted a BB gun in his bedroom while he was participating in a virtual class.
The boy, Ka Mauri Harrison, returned to class Thursday, but it was a harrowing experience for the fourth grader and his family.
Ka Mauri, who attends Woodmere Elementary in Harvey, was taking a virtual class in his bedroom on Sept. 11 when his younger brother came into the room and tripped over a BB gun, NOLA.com reported. Ka Mauri, who was taking an English test, grabbed the BB gun and placed it “by his side,” according to court records.
“My brother walked in the room and tripped over the BB gun and I put it on the side of me,” the boy told WDSU.
According to court documents, Ka Mauri’s teacher called his name to ask about the BB gun, but the boy’s family said he had muted the remote screen so he could concentrate on his test, WWL reported.
Citing a policy based on in-class instruction, Jefferson Parish Public school officials suspended Ka Mauri because the BB gun was in view while he attended class, NOLA.com reported.
The Louisiana Department of Education School Behavior Report listed the incident as “possesses weapons prohibited under federal law.”
“Harrison left his seat (at home) momentarily, out of view of the teacher,” the report said. “When the student returned, he had what appeared to be a full-sized rifle in his possession.”
When he was disconnected moments later from the class, Ka Mauri said he was confused and told his sister, NOLA.com reported.
Ka Mauri’s parents, Nyron Harrison and Thelma Williams, called the school and learned about the suspension.
“They are treating it as if he brought a weapon to school,” Nyron Harrison said. “They told me he would be facing expulsion.”
Nyron Harrison told NOLA.com that he bought a BB gun, and not a rifle, adding that he taught his son how to use it properly and safely.
The gun was not loaded and his son moved it to get it out of the way, Harrison said.
The boy’s suspension was upheld Tuesday, and the department recommended expelling Ka Mauri, according to WDSU.
“This is a terrible overreaction,” Chelsea Cusimano, the attorney representing the Harrison family, told the television station. “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.”
In a statement before the suspension was lifted, school district officials said they “do not comment on individual school records.”
“Regarding discipline, it is our policy that teachers and administrators may employ reasonable disciplinary and corrective measures to maintain order,” the statement said.
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