For a couple of days now we’ve been talking about Ka Mauri Harrison, the 4th grader from Harvey, Louisiana who was suspended from his virtual schooling for six days after a teacher spotted him picking up a BB gun from his bedroom floor and putting it away so his younger brother didn’t trip over it. Not only has Harrison received some backing from high profile groups like the NRA, Louisiana’s Attorney General is now investigating to determine if the young man’s rights were violated by the school suspension.
Harrison’s attorney, meanwhile, says she’s been flooded with calls from around the country since the student’s story began receiving national attention.
By Friday, the family’s attorney, Chelsea Cusimano, had fielded requests from most national news networks, including ABC, CBS and CNN, as well as newspapers including the Washington Post and USA Today.
But other messages poured in, including tales of similar incidents in other states. A family in Louisville emailed to say that a gun was seen during their son’s virtual lesson and he was not suspended. A man from New Jersey wanted to speak with the Harrisons because his son had been suspending for holding a Nerf gun while doing online class. Cusimano said one person requested her legal aid in a similar matter.
“It’s something that’s not comprehensible,” she said of the response.
Harrison is at least the fourth student that I’m aware of who’s faced disciplinary action after inadvertently displaying a BB gun, Nerf gun, or airsoft gun during virtual class sessions over the past few months. Back in June a Baltimore County, Maryland family had their home searched after a teacher spotted a BB gun on the bedroom wall of an 11-year old. In Colorado, two students received visits from police after similar incidents involving toy guns.
Obviously not every incident is going to result in a news story. You need parents who are willing to speak out and take their case to the press, and then you need reporters who are interested in covering what happened. Given the fact that Cusimano’s phone has been ringing off the hook with parents who want to share similar stories about their kids, it’s pretty apparent that these aren’t just a handful of isolated incidents that we’re talking about.
My advice for parents is to be proactive. Contact your school district now and ask them what their policies are when it comes to virtual learning and the inadvertent display of a toy gun or a BB gun during class. If you’re not satisfied with the response, talk to your school board representative and share your concerns, and be prepared to show up at the next school board meeting. There’s strength in numbers, so try to get other parents involved as well.
Ka Mauri’s parents aren’t giving up their fight, and they say they’ve been amazed by the support the family has received.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Nyron Harrison said. Messages have been flooding in through Facebook and email, he said. “We’ve been getting a lot of invites to gun ranges and different gun clubs.”
Messages have come in from “West Virginia, Colorado, a lot of places,” he said.
Ka’Mauri understands a little bit of what is going on, his father said.
“I try to keep it on the positive note and give him the feeling that he’s done nothing wrong,” he said. “A lot of people want to help him.”
Indeed we do, but we also know that Ka Mauri isn’t the only kid who’s had do deal with an insane response by a school district when it comes to toy or BB guns. This isn’t a problem relegated only to anti-gun states or deep-blue Democratic-run school districts. The problem is clearly more widespread than many may have realized, and it’s time that parents start speaking up to ensure that kids aren’t punished for simply being kids.