According to the American Civil Liberties Union, a Louisiana school district’s dress code has violated a student’s right to wear dreadlocks.
After an unnamed student was told he couldn’t return to school because he wouldn’t comply with the South Plaquemines High School dress code, the ACLU sent a letter to the Plaquemines Parish School Board in response.
The letter condemned the high school and the school board for suspending a student with dreadlocks, and criticized its rule that boys’ hair cannot extend past the collar. The ACLU insisted that the rule prevents the student, who belongs to the Rastafarian religion, from following the religion’s creed and growing his hair long.
Despite the student’s religious association, and the school’s knowledge of it, the student was told not to return unless his dreadlocks were cut. Even a letter from the student’s mother confirming the family’s religious association was not enough to satisfy the school.
South Plaquemines High School principal John Barthelemy later stated that the student was never suspended, but simply sent home. The student can allegedly make up missing work and continue attending classes. According to Barthelemy, the school board is discussing how to proceed.
"For the record, this particular student, I have him graduating early,” Barthelemy said. "The days out of school were not counting against him for suspension or anything on his record, we want to get him back on track."
The ACLU has since insisted that the student’s wearing of dreadlocks is similar to another student wearing a similar religious icon. The organization has accused the school of giving preference to certain religions over others.