The ongoing dreadlocks issue involving a senior student and Barbers Hill ISD have now extended to the student’s cousin.
The mother of 16-year-old Kaden Bradford, a sophomore at Barbers Hill High School and cousin of DeAndre Arnold, the senior student that has been at the center of the controversy, said the district is now saying her son must cut his dreadlocks or he will be rendered to an in-school suspension status. He might also have to attend alternative school for the remainder of 10th grade as well as his junior and senior years in high school. In addition, neither he nor his cousin will able to walk across the graduation stage with their peers.
Cindy Bradford said none of this is an option.
“We are not going to give in,” Bradford said.
Bradford said they are seeking legal avenues, but would not comment any further about what type of action they plan to take.
“We may consider changing schools if we do not get answers,” she said.
DeAndre Arnold’s mother, Sandy, apparently told Fox 26’s Isiah Carey her son is switching school districts but is not saying where due to safety concerns, according to a Facebook post from Carey.
Bradford said the district’s issue with her son started around the same time as DeAndre Arnold’s.
“Kaden went to school, and they told him he was out of the dress code,” Bradford said. “But, they told him to get it corn-rolled up and then he could attend school. I did what they said. When I sent him back to school, they told him he was still short on the dress code, and I asked why, and they said because he didn’t cut his hair.”
Bradford said despite their efforts to corn-roll her son’s hair, she was told it would still be in violation of the dress code since if he was asked to take it down, it would fall below the eyes, over the ears, and below the collar.
“Well, naturally, it is going to do that because hair grows,” Bradford said.
Bradford said they filed an exemption
“We’ve got that and turned it in,” she said. “But it has to go through several people.”
The exemption was something the Barbers Hill board put into place in December
following some suggestions from the U.S. Department of Justice, which had investigated the district over another hair code incident in 2017 involving a four-year-old kindergarten student, Jabez Oates. Dr. Greg Poole, the district’s superintendent, has stated multiple times the DOJ vindicated the district.
Bradford said her son was asked why doesn’t he want to cut his hair.
“He told him it was because of his ancestors and slavery. And he feels like if he cuts it since he’s been managing it for so long, it is a part of him,” Bradford said.
The issue has been a hot topic on the news as well as the local radio station, KWWJ. On Rev. Gregory Griffin’s show, The Feedback Corner, which runs from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, many have called in claiming the issue is about race.
Griffin has a different take on the issue.
“I don’t think it’s a civil rights issue,” Griffin said. “I looked at the Barbers Hill handbook, and they do not want green, pink, or orange hair, or Mohawks, or low cut blouses on females. It is across the board.”
Griffin said famous folks that have weighed in on the issue such as Houston Texas Wide Receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Bernice King, the youngest child of slain civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee are “hunting mice while lions devour the land.”
“There are bigger fish to fry than this,” Griffin said. “If they ask to cut the hair one inch, it is not about cornrows. It is about the length of the hair, which, in my thought patterns, has nothing to do with race. We have certain rules in place, and if the father wanted to, he could homeschool his child. You have multiple school shootings going on, and we’re talking about the length of a child’s hair. I just have a problem with it.”
Griffin repeatedly said on his show the parents of DeAndre and Kaden do not have to let their children go to Barbers Hill ISD.
“That is their right. They do not have to go to that district,” Griffin said. “But for Black Lives Matter to come down during school board meetings and say it is a discrimination issue, it is not a discrimination issue. I deal with civil rights on my show on a daily basis. Everything is not black or racist or white. There are some issues that are racist but this is not one of them.”
Griffin said his last caller on Friday’s show made a valid point.
“If he goes to corporate America with his As and Bs and try to get a decent job and this is going to come back on social media that he was rebellious about one inch of hair,” Griffin said. “It all because he couldn’t cut one inch of hair.”
Poole has said the hair code is an “expectation of the community.” District officials were asked how they came to this conclusion.
“In three board meetings, not a single Barbers Hill taxpayer has spoken against the policy other than the parents,” Jami Navarre, Barbers Hill spokeswoman, said. “The dress code is set by our school board, and obviously we can’t answer how they discern their views. We do have a District Educational Improvement Council, which includes members of staff from all campuses, community members, parents and business owners, and they do provide input on the dress-code policy.”
District officials were also asked how they correlate a student’s good grades and performance with the hair policy.
“We are one of the highest performing districts in the state, and that is directly correlated to our high standards and high expectations,” Navarre said. “It is a proven fact that students will live up or down to your expectations.”
In response to some claims from other students that the hair policy was not enforced strictly until DeAndre’s story hit the news, Navarre said they are continuing to do what they always have: have high standards and enforce them.
Bradford said she just wants the district officials to hear them out.
“I just want to sit down with them to let them know what is going,” she said. “We tried to do everything they asked us to do, but the superintendent and board members refuse to sit down with us and talk.”