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School Tells Senior to Cut Dreadlocks or Skip Graduation

Length is the issue, not style, district insists
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2020 7:45 AM CST
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Stock photo.   (Getty/Rattankun Thongbun)

(Newser) – Graduation is three months away at Barbers Hill High School. That's how long DeAndre Arnold has to decide whether to cut his dreadlocks, USA Today reports. If he doesn't, he won't be permitted to walk across the stage at graduation, the Texas school has told him. And he might be barred from the prom. Arnold already has been suspended, and he missed classes last week. The issue is the length of his hair, the school district said. "There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair," the superintendent said. "Our policy limits the length. It's been that way for 30 years." It's a standoff: The student and his family said he's not cutting his hair. Sandy Arnold, DeAndre's mother, doesn't get the district policy. "You don't tell girls they can't have short hair," she said.

The superintendent said the policy reflects an "expectation of the community," saying that high expectations lead to success. Bernice King, a daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted a response to that argument, per CNN. "Deandre's locks do not reflect 'lowness' or a deviation from what should be a 'high expectation,'" King wrote. On Friday, the Arnolds said DeAndre had left Barbers Hill and enrolled in another school, per Fox 26 News; no other information was available. "We're here for DeAndre, but it's about more than that," Sandy Arnold said last week. "This is about all the other DeAndres that could come through Barbers Hill." One of them is DeAndre's cousin Kaden Bradford, a sophomore whose mother said he's been growing his dreadlocks since he was in sixth grade. The principal has told Kaden he can't come back to school unless he cuts his hair, she said. (Read more dreadlocks stories.)

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