BLACK VOICES

Student Forced To Change Schools For Not Cutting His Locs, Family Says

The seventh grader has worn his locs to school since he was in third grade.

A Hopewell, Virginia family claims their seventh grade child was forced to leave his private school because he wouldn't cut his dreadlocks.

Shawn Freeman, the father of 13-year-old Isaiah Freeman told WTVR that West End Christian School administrators said his son's hair was too long and violated school policy. The dad told the news channel that Isaiah's hair has been about the same length since he was in third grade and it was three months into the school term.

"I was a bit confused because I've had it like this for so long," Isaiah said.

In an effort to resolve the issue, Isaiah's dad said they pulled his locs back in a bun. "I was thinking that the school would approve this so I could just go to school like normal," Isaiah said.

The private school, however, still disapproved and threatened to discipline him each day he returned to school with his long hair, Freeman told WTVR.

Principal Amy Griggs, however, told The Huffington Post that the school was trying to compromise with Isaiah's mother on a style that would keep his hair out of his face until his father got involved and withdrew him from school.

"[Students'] haircut can't be pass the middle of the neck, halfway below the ears, and not below the eyebrows," Principal Amy Griggs told HuffPost, stating that Isaiah's hair had grown since the beginning of the school year. "This is across the board for boys in this school."

Griggs emphasized that both parents and students "know exactly what the rules are before they come to school" and that they should've acted "if they had an issue with it at the beginning of the year." 

She was saddened by Isaiah's departure, saying that he was an "exemplary student." She said, however, that she couldn't make an exception because the school has asked other male students to cut their hair in the past.

Freeman, who is in the process of finding a new school for his son, told the Daily News that it's a matter of the school administrators "not being culturally aware" and "stereotyping."

“As he gets older people are uncomfortable with him having dreadlocks and getting older and bigger," the dad said. "It's an issue of people feeling uncomfortable with a young black male having dreadlocks and having a certain persona of negativity.”

Griggs told HuffPost that the issue wasn't Isaiah's hairstyle, but the length. She also made a point to say one of their female teachers has loc'd hair. Still, after speaking with Isaiah's parents, the school board is considering diversity training and possibly changing their hair policy for the next school year.

Shawn told Daily News, however, that even if the board changes the rules, he wouldn't re-enroll Isaiah. 

HuffPost

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