NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU of Louisiana today condemned the Jefferson Parish school district for suspending Ka'Mauri Harrison, a Black 4th grader, for having a BB gun in his room while taking a virtual test.
Alanah Odoms, ACLU of Louisiana executive director, issued the following statement:
“Ka'Mauri Harrison’s suspension from school was an excessive and unjustified punishment that reflects the deeply-rooted racism that criminalizes Black students and fuels the school-to-prison pipeline. In a state where white people are free and even encouraged to brandish their guns publicly, a Black boy was suspended and nearly expelled from school for the mere presence of a BB gun in his own home. Removing students from the classroom denies them their fundamental right to an education and can inflict long-lasting harm; that’s why suspension and expulsion should be used sparingly and only as a last resort. Instead, Black students are subjected to excessive punishments like suspension at disproportionate rates.
“This incident is a reminder of the systemic racism Black students experience each and every day – and it cannot be tolerated any longer. We join Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough in demanding the school district immediately revoke Harrison’s suspension and issue an apology. It is also essential that Jefferson Parish school district review its school discipline policies and institute racial bias training for teachers and staff.”
A study by Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance for New Orleans found that Black students in Louisiana are more than twice as likely as white students to be suspended.
The ACLU of Louisiana is committed to upholding the constitutional rights of Louisiana students and combating racial disparities in education. The organization’s students’ rights handbook is available online here.