This is DeAndre Arnold.
The black teen in Texas, US was recently given a damning ultimatum after he was told to cut his dreadlocks or be barred from participating in his graduation ceremony by remaining in in-school suspension.
According to KPRC, DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High, located outside of Houston, Texas, was told that his hair was not within the guidelines of the school’s hair policy. He currently remains reduced to in-school suspension. According to a report by CBS This Morning, Deandre’s family is now considering legal action. For DeAndre, the hair is not just a fashion choice, but is rooted in significance as he pays homage to his father’s Trinidadian ancestry.
“I really like that part of Trinidadian culture,” he told KPRC. “So, I mean I really embrace that.”
DeAndre’s mother Sandy Arnold told the local affiliate that her son’s hair was well within compliance, until the policy was changed around Christmas break.
Male students were then instructed that their hair could not extend past the eyebrows, the ear lobes or the top of a T-shirt collar, including when it is let down.
DeAndre was told that he could not return to school or participate in any activities until his hair was regulated under the policy. “He is an A and B student, he has dual credit classes. He is not a problem,” Sandy said.
“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 continued. “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.”
Luckily DeAndre has his family as a safe haven who are also willing to stand by his decision.
This is his belief,” Sandy said. “This is a part of who he is. This is his culture. This is what we believe.”
DeAndre’s family told CBS that they are actively looking for another school to transfer to.
In response, the Barbers Hill Independent School District verified that they do not allow dreadlocks, but posted a contradictory message on their Twitter account, seemingly in response to the media attention surrounding DeAndre’s case.
“However we DO have a community-supported hair length policy & have had for decades,” the statement said. “BH is a State leader with high expectations in ALL areas!”
And school district superintendent Greg Poole wrote in a statement that the current policy does allow “any legally accepted religious or medical exemptions,” but then countered to say the school would not be swayed from “outside influences.”
“We will continue to be a child-centered district that seeks to maximize the potential of EVERY child,” Poole stated. “Local control is sacred to this country, and we will NOT be bullied or intimidated by outside influences.”
DeAndre has a range of support from across social media including from Houston Texans wide receiver Deandre Hopkins.