Va. 7th-Grader Told to Cut His Locks if He Wanted to Stay in School

“I think it’s a form of not being culturally aware, a form of stereotyping,” says his dad, Shawn Freeman.

Isaiah Freeman, 13, was told that he would have to cut his hair even though his family pulled it above his ears
Isaiah Freeman, 13, was told that he would have to cut his hair even though his family pulled it above his ears Courtesy of Freeman family

A seventh-grade student at a private school in central Virginia was told he must cut his dreadlocks if he wanted to remain in school, according to WTVR.

Isaiah Freeman, 13, was pulled out of West End Christian School in Hopewell by his father after officials threatened to discipline Isaiah for the hairstyle by giving him a a “referral” every day he showed up to school with the locks.

The rub is that Isaiah has had his hair in the style since he began at the school in third grade. Yet the school said the hair was too long even though his family pulled his hair above his ears.

“I think it’s a form of not being culturally aware, a form of stereotyping,” dad Shawn Freeman told the New York Daily News Friday. He describes his son as a well-mannered young man who consistently gets good grades and wants to be a geologist when he grows up.

Freeman is currently looking for another school for his son. He told the News he could not believe that the school began enforcing the rule three months into the term—and several years after Isaiah entered the school.

“They won’t give me a legitimate reason why this is an issue now,” Freeman says.

West End Christian School Principal Amy Griggs said that the school has asked the same of other male students and if it excused Isaiah, that could open the door to students challenging other policies. She insists that it is about the length and not the style of the hair.

“The rule in our handbook states that hair length is to be no longer than the middle of the neck, halfway below the ears, and not below the eyebrows,” she said to the News. “Even from the beginning of the school year, Isaiah’s hair has become considerably longer. This has never been about his hairstyle, only the length.”

“As he gets older, people are uncomfortable with him having dreadlocks and getting older and bigger,” Shawn Freeman told WTVR. “It’s an issue of people feeling uncomfortable with a young black male having dreadlocks and having a certain persona of negativity.”

Griggs reportedly said, after speaking with the parents again, that the school board is considering diversity training and possibly changing the hair policy for next year, but Isaiah will not be there.

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