Jefferson Parish school system urges lawmakers to reject 'Ka’Mauri Harrison Act’

Jefferson Parish Schools
Jefferson Parish Schools(WVUE FOX 8)
Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 9:37 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Jefferson Parish public school system urges lawmakers to reject a House Bill 83.

This bill would allow two students recently suspended for having bb guns during virtual learning sessions to appeal their cases.

The Jefferson Parish public school system says House Bill 83 would have serious and wide-reaching consequences for Louisiana school districts.

In an open letter to Louisiana lawmakers, school board members and the Jefferson Parish school superintendent say they have not been given consent to discuss the facts of the case and therefore cannot defend its actions. But they are urging legislators to consider the broader implications of House Bill 83.

One of which they say would make it more difficult for teachers to maintain order in the classroom when they are already facing unprecedented challenges.

The letter comes after 11-year-old Tomie Brown and 4th grader Ka’Mauri Harrison were both suspended after they reportedly had BB guns visible in their homes during online classes.

Harrison’s case has gained national attention and House Bill 83 was named after him. It would require all school districts in the state to revamp discipline policies in light of expanded distant learning.

The bill also modifies the law already in place to give students a secondary review if they’re recommended for expulsion. Earlier this week, it unanimously passed and now goes to the senate.

Yesterday, we spoke with an attorney representing both students and their families.

“We have the legislature on our side. The entire house unanimously approved the bill on Tuesday,” said attorney Chelsea Cusimano. “Had this not happened, these children would have been left with no recourse.”

In its letter to lawmakers, the school system also says under House Bill 83, school boards statewide would be overwhelmed with suspension appeals. Something they say is not a rational or reasonable use of school board resources.

The district also believes the bill would result in increased litigation and would force school boards to direct limited financial resources to the defense of frivolous lawsuits rather than directing those dollars to students and teachers.

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