I am a retired Special Education teacher from Killeen ISD in Central Texas. I am troubled and disappointed that Barbers Hill ISD would continue to demand that Deandre Arnold cut his hair or face detention or worse punishment. Shame on you for denying his right to attend his high school graduation ceremony. Six of you school board members proudly stated you have two children that have graduated from this same high school Deandre is unable to attend at this time. How would you feel if your children were told they couldn’t graduate with their peers?
No doubt you enjoyed seeing them at their graduation ceremony. How can you condone barring Deandre and his parents from experiencing this same joyful celebration of his hard earned achievements?
Please don’t tell me this is all on Deandre: that if he would just cut off his hair, he could come back to school and attend his graduation. You have a dress code exemption form that includes a religious exemption. Let Deandre use it! On your website, you board members have an item in your listed goals that states you will “continue to evaluate and implement the dress code.”
Here is your chance to actually do your job. If dress codes are in place to help, not hinder the success of your students, then evaluate your dress code rules about hair and fix this mess! Show students how you are able to see a problem and make it better. Show them you know how to do the right thing.
I shouldn’t have to remind you that your refusal to respect Deandre and his family is sending a big, negative message to all your students and their families. Your actions speak so much louder than your words about a rule on hair length. Who cares about this? Not the kids. Not the parents. Not the teachers. Their focus is on succeeding. What are you focused on?
If the rest of us can see how ridiculous, petty and downright discriminatory this hair rule is, why can’t you? How does your high school principal motivate his staff and students to greatness, when one of his own seniors is unable to attend classes and fulfill his dreams?
Deandre’s hair is clean and worn off the shoulder. He is choosing to become a veterinarian. Have the courage to open your hearts and minds. Please respect Deandre and his family. Welcome him to continue his education in your school district. And celebrate with him and his family, as he graduates with his peers in the spring of 2020.
All eyes are on you and we wait with Deandre and his parents, for your leadership.