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

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 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.

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