MONT BELVIEU, Texas (CBS Local) — A Texas family is threatening legal action against their local school district after their teen son was told he couldn’t walk at graduation because of his hair.
High school senior Deandre Arnold is facing an in-school suspension after the Barbers Hill Independent School District said his long dreadlocks violate its dress code.
His mom, Sandy Arnold, says her son’s hairstyle is not a distraction or does it stop him from learning in any way.
“He has good grades. I don’t get calls about that. I don’t get calls ’cause he’s disrespectful — anything other than his hair,” she told CBS News.
She thinks this is about race.
De’Andre Arnold says he's going to stand up for what he believes in: “You can’t just let people walk all over you like that. You have to be willing to take a stand and that’s what I’m willing to do.” https://t.co/5XUYV4WDm5 #khou
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) January 23, 2020
“There’s no people of color on the school board,” she said. “So I get it that they don’t understand about his hair.”
California became the first state to ban discrimination against black students and employees over their natural hair styles last year. New York and New Jersey have since signed similar bills into law.
Superintendent Gregory Poole says the dress code only limits hair length, not style.
“We’d love to see Deandre back in class,” he said. “We’d love to have him get a diploma and there’s no way that we would inhibit him from graduating but we are going to be fair to the 6,200 other kids that have to comply by the same policy.”
Arnold has been getting a lot of support, including Houston Texans football star Deandre Hopkins who tweeted “Never cut your locks Deandre Arnold” to his nearly 459,000 followers.
Never cut your locks Deandre Arnold.
— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) January 22, 2020
Arnold’s family says it is exploring its legal options. Meantime, he’s visiting other schools to see where else he can walk at his graduation.
“Whenever you go through something in life that you feel like you’re being mistreated or anything like that, you have to stand against it,” Arnold told CBS affiliate KHOU. “You can’t just let people walk all over you like that. You have to be willing to take a stand and that’s what I’m willing to do.”