It’s not unusual for schools to have dress codes. I remember my school basically saying don’t wear gang insignia, baggy pants, “If you see the police, WARN A BROTHER!” shirts and things of that nature. A high school in Texas has a dress code, though, that doesn’t seem to account for black hair.
CBS News reports that Barbers Hill High School has suspended student Deandre Arnold and is refusing to let him walk during his graduation unless he cuts his dreadlocks. The school has a long-standing policy that limits the length of a student’s hair. Superintendent Greg Poole has said “There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing the hair. Our policy limits the length.”
Arnold’s family presented the case to the Barbers Hill ISD school board during a public meeting on Martin Luther King Day. While some spoke in support of the school’s decision, a majority of the parents disagreed with it. Arnold’s mother, Sandy Arnold, was confused at the sudden punishment as Deandre has been growing his dreads out since 7th grade.
That is the strangest part of this whole situation to me. Dreads take some time to grow out and it seems as though he was wearing them during the entirety of his time at Barbers Hill. Why suddenly bring the hammer down now? It strikes me as odd and more than a little suspect. The Superintendent noted that the Barbers Hill dress code has been the same for over 30 years. Perhaps they can use this situation as a lesson and update their dress code to reflect the modern, more diverse student population? Who am I kidding, this is Texas we’re talking about.
Arnold is being represented by Gary Monroe of the United Urban Alumni Association. Monroe has said that if the board doesn’t solve the issue this week they will take the case to federal court.