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A Virginia 7th grader was told that he had to cut his dreadlocks if he wanted to continue to attend private school.

13-year-old Isaiah Freeman has been wearing his hair in dreadlocks since the third grade, but when he began to attend West End Christian School in Hopewell, officials at the school told him that there was an issue with the style. Despite the fact that he pulled his hair up above his ears, he was still told that the hair was unacceptably long and that he would receive a “referral” for every day that he showed up to school with the hairstyle.

“I think it’s a form of not being culturally aware, a form of stereotyping,” Shawn Freeman, the boy’s father, told the Daily News on Friday, adding that he had pulled his son out of the school.

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West End Christian School principal Amy Griggs said that the issue was with the length of Isaiah’s hair and not with the style itself. She also noted that the school had asked several other boys to change their style, so they would not make an exception for Isaiah over the other boys.

“The rule in our handbook states that hair length is to be no longer than the middle of the neck, halfway below the ears, and not below the eyebrows,” she said to the News. “Even from the beginning of the school year, Isaiah’s hair has become considerably longer. This has never been about his hairstyle, only the length.”

But Freeman disagrees.

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“As he gets older people are uncomfortable with him having dreadlocks and getting older and bigger,” he told WTVR. “It’s an issue of people feeling uncomfortable with a young black male having dreadlocks and having a certain persona of negativity.”

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