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School reportedly tells black teen he must cut off his lengthy dreadlocks in order to walk for graduation

A questionable action, some say

Image source: KPRC-TV video screenshot

A Texas school district has reportedly determined that a teen with dreadlocks will not be able to walk for graduation unless he cuts them off.

What are the details?

According to KPRC-TV, DeAndre Arnold, who is a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, will not be able to participate in his 2020 high school graduation unless he cuts his dreadlocks.

Administrators at the school also recently handed down an in-school suspension after the teen refused to cut his hairstyle back.

The Arnold family, who hails from Trinidad, sports extensive dreadlocks as part of the family's culture. DeAndre also said that the school district changed its dress code after Christmas break, demanding that hair must be "clean and well-groomed" and male students' hair must not extend past the eyebrows, earlobes, or T-shirt collar, according to KPRC.

"They say that even though my hair is up and I follow all of the regulations, that if it was down, it would be out of dress code," DeAndre told the station. "Not that I'm out of dress code, but if I was to take it down, I would be out of dress code, which doesn't make any sense. I don't take it down at school."

Sandy said that the district is threatening to withhold his graduation participation if he does not comply with dress code.

"This is part of who he is," she reasoned. "This is his culture. This is what we believe."

What is the school saying about this?

In a Sunday Twitter statement, the school superintendent said that while dreadlocks are permitted in the school dress code, it does "have a community supported hair length policy & have had for decades."

A Thursday statement doubled down on the decision, adding, "BH has received scrutiny regarding our high level of expectations on all things & dress code. Yet our African American students beat the state average on passing STAR by 22% & our overall passing scores are the highest in the state. Sounds like high expectations work!"

A statement on the district website reads:

Barbers Hill Independent School District is one of the fastest growing school districts in Texas and is a state leading district with significant academic, extracurricular and financial successes! We passed our last bond by an 86% margin and enjoy tremendous community support. That same community demands high expectations in all things including dress code, and our board of trustees, which has included African American representation, takes their role of representing our local community as one of their chief priorities. We allow any legally accepted religious or medical exemptions to our dress code and have allowed such exemptions in the past. We will continue to be a child-centered district that seeks to maximize the potential of EVERY child. Local control is sacred to this country, and we will NOT be bullied or intimidated by outside influences. We are proud of the many past leaders that have laid the foundation that has made Barbers Hill ISD a destination district for the unprecedented numbers of parents that are moving here.
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