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Louisiana attorney general investigating case of school that suspended 4th grader over BB gun in virtual class

Ka Mauri Harrison was suspended for six days after he picked up a BB gun his younger brother tripped over and placed it in view of his computer camera.

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry on Friday said he is launching an investigation into whether the Jefferson Parish Public School System violated state and federal constitutions after a fourth-grader was suspended for handling a BB gun during a virtual class.

Woodmere Elementary student Ka Mauri Harrison, 9, was suspended for six days after he picked up a BB gun his younger brother tripped over in his bedroom. Ku Mauri placed it in view of his computer’s camera while taking a test during a virtual class.

"You could kind of see a portion of it on the screen for a split second,” Nyron Harrison, his father said Thursday.

The Jefferson Parish Public School system said Ka Mauri brandished “what appeared to be a full-sized rifle” during the class. Even after his family said it was a BB gun, a school behavior report said regardless of the type of weapon, the action still violated school policy.

School officials agree that Ku Mauri did not point the gun at the computer, but an attorney for the family said the school system maintains that on-campus policies are in effect for distance learning, despite the family’s protests.

The Harrison family has asked that Ku Mauri’s suspension be removed from his record.

The school system on Friday had no comment on the AG’s move and said Ku Mauri’s suspension remains on his record.

Ku Mauri was eligible to return to class Thursday after serving the suspension.
Landry said he was alarmed by what he called multiple violations of the state and federal constitutions but also “blatant government overreach by the school system.”

“For anyone to conclude that a student’s home is now school property because of connectivity through video conferencing is absurd,” Landry said. “It is ludicrous for this All-American kid to be punished for taking responsible actions just as it is for his parents to be accused of neglect.”

Landry’s office did not specify which violations of either constitution that the school system may have violated.

“My office and I will take a deep dive into all the irreparable harm caused by this egregious incident and take appropriate actions,” Landry added.

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Scott Sternberg, an attorney who has followed the story since it broke this week, said he believes the school system is wrong, and he said he does not believe the law allows a government agency such as a school system to punish someone for what is in their home.

"Usually when you suspend a student for something, it's because what they have done affects the educational environment,” he said. “I don’t see how having this BB gun propped up in the side of the video has anything to do with the educational mission of the school.”

Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough says he doesn't understand the situation either.

“He's not brandishing the gun, he's not being disruptive,” Kimbrough said. “He goes back to doing what he was doing.”

Kimbrough wrote to Jefferson Parish School Superintendent James Gray asking him for several things, including removing the suspension from Ku Mauri's record and a public apology.

“I see this every day because I have an 11-year-old boy who will do things and it's like, 'Why are you doing this?' He's a boy. He's 11. So, I don't get it,” Kimbrough said.

The Harrison family issued a statement Friday after Landry announced he would look into the case, saying they are “extremely grateful for the full support of Attorney General Jeff Landry and his office.”

“We are looking forward to the results of the Attorney General’s investigation regarding what we perceive to be multiple violations of the Civil Rights of Ka Mauri Harrison and the Harrison Family.”

On Thursday, Nyron Harrison said he worries about his son's future after a brief moment from his past.

"This outcome is going to follow him through the rest of his life, and that's what's not allowing me to accept their decision,” he said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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