State lawmakers in Louisiana have moved to make it easier for students to appeal expulsions after a Black child was suspended last month for having a BB gun in his room.
According to WAFB, a committee in the state House has introduced a bill to make it easier for 4th grader Ka’Mauri Harrison to appeal his suspension. Even though Harrison wasn’t on campus when the event occurred, the Jefferson Parish school district initially moved to expel him.
Harrison was attending class virtually when his younger brother tripped over a BB gun in his room, leading Harrison to pick up the gun and place it on his desk in view of the class.
“This is certainly something that I don’t believe was anticipated by the school board that should’ve been anticipated by the school board,” Rep. Ray Garofalo (R), House education chairman, said during a hearing. “All the statements backed up what Ka’Mauri said. If that’s the case, then this is an injustice.”
The school board decided to reduce the punishment from expulsion to a six-day suspension because, yeah, that makes sense.
The suspension will remain on Harrison’s permanent record unless he successfully wins an expulsion appeal. The district refused to grant Harrison an appeal because even though they formally threatened to expel him, they didn’t.
“Some students have been expelled or suspended for doing what would be considered normal at home,” Rep. Troy Romero (R) said during a hearing in the House.
Romero introduced a proposal that would allow students who are formally threatened with expulsion to appeal, even if their punishment is ultimately reduced. It would also require schools to clarify what campus rules still apply during virtual learning and to craft a code of conduct for students during virtual classes.
Considering we don’t know how long students are going to have to continue virtual learning, I’m surprised other states haven’t taken similar steps.
Harrison’s father, Nyron, filed a suit against the school board shortly after the incident occurred. “We trust these people with our children on an everyday basis to make sound judgmental decisions on their behalf,” Nyron told WAFB. “Ka’Mauri is just the first. He still has his children and generations to come after him. Children all across the world are enduring these same injustices in school systems and whatnot.”
The bill, named after Ka’Mauri, passed through the state House with no opposition.