School Says They Won’t Be ‘Bullied’ After Telling Teen He Can’t Walk At Graduation With Locs

Rearview shot of a group of students standing in a row on graduation day

School Says They Won’t Be ‘Bullied’ After Telling Teen He Can’t Walk At Graduation With Locs

Mom says she won’t cut son’s hair.

Published January 23rd

Written by Zayda Rivera

A high school senior in Texas was told he can’t walk in his graduation unless he cuts his locs, which he’s worn for years.

DeAndrea Arnold, a Black senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, said his hair was in compliance with school rules until recently when he was asked to cut it, NBC News reports

Arnold, whose father is from Trinidad, told NBC affiliate KPRC that he’s worn locs for years like a lot of the men in his family, but he’s always followed the school’s dress code by tying them up. 

But three months before graduation, the Barbers Hill Independent School District changed its dress code as it refers to hair, Arnold’s mother, Sandy Arnold, said, NBC reports. 

According to the new rules, “hair must be clean and well groomed” and not extend on male students, at any time, below the eyebrows, the ear lobes or the top of a T-shirt collar, including when let down, KPRC reports. 

The high school senior told 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. 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."

As a result of the rule change, Arnold is not allowed in school and can’t attend graduation until he complies with the dress code, his mother told KPRC, adding that her response to the school about cutting his hair was, “Absolutely not.” 

KPRC reports that Barbers Hill Independent School District released a written statement, saying, "However we DO have a community supported hair length policy & have had for decades. BH is a State leader with high expectations in ALL areas!"

In a statement on the district’s website, superintendent Greg Poole released a statement appearing to address the issue.

“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,” he wrote, adding, “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.”

Sandy Arnold told KPRC that wearing dreadlocks is her son’s “belief.” 

“This is a part of who he is,” she told the station. “This is his culture. This is what we believe.” 

BET has reached out to Barbers Hill Independent School District for comment. 

(Photo: Getty Images)

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