Barbers Hill ISD upholds hair policy that led to DeAndre Arnold and cousin's suspensions

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020
The Barbers Hill school board voted to keep its hair policy in place
The Barbers Hill school board voted to keep its hair policy in place.

MONT BELVIEU, Texas (KTRK) -- The Barbers Hill school district board voted not to change its hair code policy after controversy surrounding the suspension of two African American students earlier in the year for wearing their hair in dreadlocks.

DeAndre Arnold's fight over how he wore his hair received national attention, with the student inspiring anti-discrimination legislation in Texas. DeAndre was also invited to attend the Oscars this past February by filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry, who won the Academy Award for best animated short film for his documentary, "Hair Love."

Monday afternoon at the Barbers Hill ISD meeting, arguments were heard over grievances the ACLU of Texas and the Juvenile Children's Advocacy Project of Texas (JCAP) filed on behalf of DeAndre and his cousin Kaden Bradford.

DeAndre Arnold shared his heritage, his goals and his unintentional journey to the Oscars.

DeAndre was a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu in January 2020. He had dreadlocks for years and said it was part of his identity and culture. DeAndre's family is from Trinidad, and he said the men in his family often grow their dreadlocks to below their waist.

But the teen was suspended for his hair style, with district officials saying it wasn't about race and that dreadlocks are allowed, just not at his length.

"There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair," superintendent Greg Poole said earlier this year. "Our policy limits the length. It's been that way for 30 years."

DeAndre wasn't allowed to return to school or attend his graduation ceremony unless he cut his hair, his family said.

The ACLU of Texas said his cousin Kaden was in the middle of his sophomore year when the dress and grooming policy was revised to prohibit male students from wearing long hair. Kaden was also suspended by school officials and enrolled in a different school.


Texas teen who was told his dreadlocks violated school dress code invited to Oscars

Texas high school student suspended over dreadlocks, family says

Teen told his dreadlocks violated school dress code inspires Texas anti-discrimination bill

'Accidental Activist': One-on-one interview with DeAndre Arnold before the Oscars

#DeAndresJourney: Texas HS student shows off his dreads on the red carpet

In the previous video above, DeAndre Arnold talked to ABC13's Chauncy Glover about his journey.