Full Senate unanimously votes to advance The Ka’Mauri Harrison Act



Bill is first proposed legislation on virtual school policy

BATON ROUGE, La. (WDSU) — The first piece of legislation that would create school policies for virtual learning was passed unanimously in the full Senate on Wednesday, a move that rarely happens.

HB 83 went before the Senate Education Committee Monday and the House of Representatives last week, both with unanimous support.

The Senate voted unanimously with 35 votes.

The bill still has to go back to the House for amendments before heading to the governor’s desk.

It’s a bill that was born from a WDSU investigation into Jefferson Parish virtual school students being recommended for expulsion and ultimately suspended when BB guns were seen in their bedrooms while they learned at home.

Legislators named the bill ‘The Ka’Mauri Harrison Act,’ after the 9-year-old featured in WDSU’s original story. At Monday’s meeting, Ka’Mauri’s father, Nyron, advocated for the bill, which provides protections for virtual school students, requires school districts to review their school policies and write new ones for virtual students and expands avenues for appeals in certain cases.

With the help of New Orleans attorney Chelsea Cusimano, the Harrison family has met with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, legislators and Gov. John Bel Edwards as the proposal has been working its way through the legislative process.

In a statement to WDSU, a spokesperson for Edwards wrote: “Of course, the governor will have to review the final version of the bill before signing, but given that virtual learning has become a significant part of the education process, he believes it is important to have good policies in place to address any issues that might arise as more students learn from home. The governor enjoyed meeting with Ka’Mauri and his father and thanked them for working on an issue that will ultimately benefit schools, students and parents.”

Tim Brown said his son, who is in sixth grade in Grand Isle was also recommended for expulsion from his Jefferson Parish school for moving a BB gun during an online class. After a disciplinary hearing, Tomie Brown was suspended and is now on probation with the school system.

“This bill is important because it gives parents and students more protection when facing expulsion, and it gives parents and students participating in virtual learning direction as to what the policies are for virtual learning,” Brown said. “We went into this school year with no direction as to what the school board believed with regard to our homes, and now my son has a weapon on campus charge for a BB gun that was in his bedroom. When I tried to appeal this, I was denied and this bill is the only way I will I can fix this for my son and fix this for other families moving forward.”

The bill won unanimous support from the House of Representatives and picked up a total of 70 authors along the way.

In a letter to legislators, the Jefferson Parish School System pointed out multiple problems it said would hurt school systems legally and financially. It also said student discipline would suffer.

Louisiana’s Special Session must end Oct. 27.

The Ka’Mauri Harrison Act would have to be passed by then for Edwards to consider signing it into law.

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