A black student was suspended by officials in the Texas school district, and was told that he would not graduate in spring unless he cut off his dreadlocks. This decision caused an outrage in the community, leading to a controversial public meeting on Martin Luther King Day.
According to KHOU, the Barbers Hill ISD school board in Mont Belvieu maintained that race did not factor into their decision.
However, activists stood by Deandre Arnold after the reason behind his suspension was revealed. One member of the United Urban Alumni Association, Gary Monroe, stated: "This is a black and white issue. Deandre should not have to — he should not have to go through this. His family should not have to go through this. But I expect it from a board that has zero diversity."
Monroe added that if the issue was not resolved soon, United Urban Alumni Association was going to take the case to federal court.
"The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to black bodies," Ashton Woods, a Black Lives Matter activist, told KHOU.
Arnold’s family is holding onto hope that his hair will not derail his future. However, they have expressed their resolve to fight the school district’s decision until the end.
"We're here for Deandre, but it's about more than that. This is about all the other Deandres that could come through Barbers Hill," Arnold’s mother, Sandy Arnold, stated.
Superintendent Greg Poole maintained that the district’s decision was not based on the dreadlocks or race, but it was about the length of Arnold’s hair. He said: "There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair. Our policy limits the length. It's been that way for 30 years."
Some of the speakers present at the school board meeting did support the board’s decision, although most were not satisfied with the school district’s explanation.