Texas school district faces backlash after student told he couldn’t walk at graduation unless he cut his dreadlocks short: report


A school district in Mont Belvieu, Texas, is facing backlash over its dress code after a student was reportedly told he wouldn’t be able to participate in graduation later this year if he didn’t cut his dreadlocks. 

{mosads}According to a local NBC station, the controversy began shortly after DeAndre Arnold, who attends Barbers Hill High School, was told he would have to cut his dreadlocks to a certain length in order to walk at his graduation this year. 

Arnold has reportedly refused to cut his hair, citing his Trinidadian culture, according to the station.

The policy was met with criticism from some local activists when the issue was addressed during a Barbers Hill Independent School District [ISD] board meeting Monday, which was also Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

One activist, Ashton Woods, told KHOU that the “dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to black bodies.”

Another activist with the United Urban Alumni Association, Gary Monroe, called the matter a “black and white issue.”

“DeAndre [and] his family should not have to go through this. But I expect it from a board that has zero diversity,” he said, according to KHOU. He also accused the school of being in “violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as it pertains to religious beliefs.”

Superintendent Greg Poole pushed back against criticism linking the policy to race, however, saying, “There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair.” 

“Our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years,” he added, according to the local station. 

The district also provided The Hill with a statement addressing the controversy on Tuesday afternoon.

“Barbers Hill ISD has a long standing dress code, but we absolutely allow dreadlocks. What we do not allow is any action that circumvents or violates the provision regarding hair length. The student in question was NEVER forbidden from attending school,” a spokesperson for the district said.

“The U.S. Constitution allows a school board the right to implement local community expectations, and Barbers Hill ISD’s continual academic and extra-curricular successes are a direct result of our communities’ high expectations,” the spokesperson continued.

However, Arnold’s mother said the family is threatening legal action if the school doesn’t allow her son to walk.

“We’re here for DeAndre, but it’s about more than that,” she told KHOU. “This is about all the other DeAndres that could come through Barbers Hill.” 

“They have 48 hours to come up with a resolution or we’re taking this to federal court,” she added.

The controversy comes as a handful of states across the country have been passing legislation that seeks to crack down on race-based hair discrimination in schools and workplaces.


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