An Arizona mother moved schools for her son after he was told that his braided hair violated the school dress code.
Brittany Anderson‘s 12-year-old son, Nasir, attended Telos Prep Academy until the incident. As Anderson wrote on Facebook, the school called her up to tell her to pick up her son and change his hair, which they said was against the dress code.
“A teacher [stated] that my son’s hair was against the school uniform policy, he is clean cut with 2 French braids going to the back,” Anderson wrote on Facebook. “The teacher told me I need to come and pick him up from school and basically could not return until his hair was no longer the same.”
Anderson went to the school, where she defended her son:
“So I asked the teacher how are these kids able to freely express themselves if your trying to prohibit them from doing so? Of course the teacher had nothing to say, and people wonder why so many kids are [committing] suicide, to me that’s a form of bullying because your talking about my sons hair. My son is 12, no behavior issues, well mannered and is no trouble at all. So I asked the teacher and the front office staff if braids are a form of being in a gang or does it signify that my son is at all gang affiliated? Still no one had anything to say, except for one who [said] that there are not enough parents who challenge the handbook.”
The local news station ABC15, which was the first to report on this story, noted that the school guidelines specifically prohibit braids for boys, not girls.
But Anderson said that her son had been wearing braids for six months without complaint.
“My son has been going to school with braided hair for the past six months, and Monday — the day of school pictures — was the first time I was notified that it was a problem,” Anderson said.
“If this was a problem six months ago, I would never have allowed my son to grow out his hair,” she added.
Anderson ultimately decided to put her son in a different school, because, she said, “I never want my son to feel as though he doesn’t have a voice.”
The school’s response
Great Hearts Academies issued a response with a statement to ABC15:
“As is the case with many public schools in Arizona, Great Hearts has a dress code policy for all of our academies. We are transparent about this policy and it is clearly stated in the Family Handbook, which is provided to parents to review and sign before their child starts school with us. We take great care in fairly and consistently upholding our policies for all students.
“We understand parents have a choice about where their children attend school, and some may not agree with our dress code policy, which is certainly their right. We’re sorry to see this family leave the Teleos Prep community, but we fully respect their decision to do so.”