TEEN is BANNED from his own graduation unless he cuts his dreadlocks
Activists from Black Lives Matter and the United Urban Alumni Association flooded to a school board meeting to argue the policy is discriminatory
Only three percent of Barbers Hill ISD’s student are black
The family of a black high school senior banned from his own graduation because of his dreadlocks is mounting a campaign against his suspension.
The school’s dress code bars male students from having hair longer than their ears or eyebrows or from passing down their collar.
DeAndre Arnold received a suspension and was told he could no longer walk in his graduation
Activists turned their backs on speakers defending the Texas high school’s long-hair policy
Activists from Black Lives Matter Houston and the United Urban Alumni Association flooded to the Barbers Hill High School’s board meeting on Monday night, Martin Luther King Jr Day, to protest against what they claim is a discriminatory policy.
Groups turned their back on speakers defending the school’s policy.
The school, based in Mont Belvieu, Texas, argues that the policy is not about race but about the length of Arnold’s hair.
‘There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair,’ said Superintendent Greg Poole.
‘Our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years.’
According to the BHISD’s 2019-2020 dress and grooming code handbook,
‘Male students’ hair will not extend, at any time, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes. Male students’ hair must not extend below the top of a t-shirt collar or be gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down.’
Arnold began growing his dreadlocks in the seventh grade but the length of his hair never became an issue for the school until he returned after the holiday break this year to be told the policy had changed.
The teen states that his hair is a celebration of his Trinidadian roots and that he always wears it up while in school. He has attended schools in Barbers Hill independent school district for ten years.
‘They say that even (when) my hair is up, if it were to be down it would be not in compliance with the dress code. However, I don’t take it down in the school,’ Arnold argued.
‘We’re here for Deandre, but it’s about more than that,’ his mother Sandy Arnold told CBS News.
‘This is about all the other Deandres that could come through Barbers Hill.’
Deandre Arnold, 18, is at the center of a media storm about his suspension over his dreadlocks
Activists flooded to the Barbers Hill High School’s board meeting on Monday night
Barbers Hill Independent School District Superintendent Greg Poole
After meeting with the school’s principal, Arnold’s mother claims she was told that cutting his hair was thew only option available if the teen wished to walk at his graduation.
After news spread of Arnold’s suspension, activists called for protest at the school’s Monday night meeting, gathering at the normally empty event and speaking in defense of Arnold.
Click2Houston report that one citizen stated that ‘without rules and regulations as we know them, we will face disorder’ but according to KHOU, the majority of those present did not accept the district or the school’s explanation.
Several of the activists live streamed the meeting on Facebook and turned their backs on those who spoke in support of the policy.
‘This is a black and white issue,’ said Gary Monroe, with the United Urban Alumni Association.
‘Deandre should not have to — he should not have to go through this. His family should not have to go through this. But I expect it from a board that has zero diversity.’
‘You are in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as it pertains to religious beliefs,’ he added during his address to the board.
Activists put out a call to attend the meeting to defend Arnold against the policy
Another activist added: ‘Let’s stop with the dress code. This not about dress code, this is about policing black boys.’
After the meeting, Monroe threatened to take the case to the federal court if the school refuses to back down on the policy. He gave them 48 hours to respond.
Arnold’s father David also accused the board of bullying his son.
‘I won’t stand for anybody bullying my child. He has rights. All he wants to do is graduate,’ he said.
The school continues to claims that the policy is not racially discriminating but a 30-year policy that has always been known to those who attend.
A day into the 48-hour deadline placed on them by activists, the school issued a further statement in which they repeated that it was the hair length and not dreadlocks that is not allowed under the policy.
‘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,’ said the statement, according to Fox News.
‘The student in question was NEVER forbidden from attending school. 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.’
According to the school’s website, however, Barber Hills ISD HAS 5,379 students of which only 3.1% is black.
The school also refused to add the topic to future meeting agendas for discussion.
‘The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to black bodies,’ Black Lives Matter activist Ashton Woods told KHOU.
Among those showing their support for the Texan teen was Houston Texans receiver Deandre Hopkins, who sports locks himself.
He tweeted: ‘Never cut your locks Deandre Arnold.’