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Louisiana AG Investigates Suspension of Student Who Handled BB Gun at Home

Woodmere Elementary suspended Ka Mauri Harrison after he picked up toy gun

Ka Mauri Harrison, a 9-year-old student in the New Orleans area / photo courtesy of Chelsea Cusimano

Louisiana attorney general Jeff Landry (R.) launched an investigation into Woodmere Elementary school on Friday for suspending a fourth-grader who responsibly handled an unloaded BB gun during online class.

Ka Mauri Harrison was taking a test when his younger brother, who was playing in the same room, tripped over a BB gun. Harrison got up from his seat, propped the toy gun against his chair, and resumed class. Harrison told the New Orleans Advocate he was confused when, moments later, his teacher shut him out of his Google Meet online classroom. School officials contacted Harrison’s parents later that day and threatened to expel the 9-year-old for having a gun appear in his video feed.

Landry released a statement on Friday calling the school’s punishment "unconstitutional." 

"The School and School Board have deprived Ka Mauri of six days of educational instruction, and that is just the start of the damage done to him and his family," Landry said. "I am alarmed by what appears to not only be multiple violations of both the State and Federal Constitutions, but also blatant government overreach by the school system." 

A school investigation into the incident found that Harrison had never played with the BB gun or pointed it at his camera, leading the school to downgrade his punishment to a six-day suspension. But Nyron Harrison, the student's father, said school officials treated his son "as if he brought a weapon to school" and noted that the suspension could still threaten his son's future. 

Landry lauded Harrison for responsibly handling the fallen BB gun and said that students' homes should not be regulated by school policies because of an online video connection.

"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."

Two other students have been punished for displaying toy guns during online class. One seventh-grader in Colorado was suspended after picking up a toy gun, and a sixth-grader in New Jersey was suspended for having a Nerf gun in his classroom video feed.