New Jersey high school students plan protest over banning of durags 

's principal says he respects his students' right to protest, but he won't be flexible on dress codes.

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A group of activist students in West Orange, New Jersey, are reportedly planning a protest today over a ban on wearing durags on their campus. 

On Tuesday, Hayden Moore, the principal of West Orange High School, released a lengthy statement to Patch, which covers local news, indicating that while he respects his students’ right to protest, he will not be flexible on the matter.

West Orange High School
West Orange High School. (Photo: Getty Images)

“As the principal of West Orange High School, I work every day to make our school and community the absolute best it can be,” Moore began. “We are a proudly diverse and inclusive community, we lean forward into every opportunity to embrace our differences and provide dignity and decency for all, and we value all community members and gladly listen to the chorus of differing opinions.” 

“The students who wish to stage a protest over the school’s ban on durags and other items of non-religious headgear are acting in good faith and with a sincere desire to express themselves through their attire. I want you to know that we consider the input of our stakeholders and review our handbook annually, making sure we improve our policies and update our handbook as time moves forward,” he continued. “I am committed to listening to students’ suggestions with respect. However, as principal, I am responsible for making the final decision on whether or not we choose to adopt the suggestion, and this is not an issue on which I will compromise.” 

“Dress codes exist to signify that school is a professional learning space that deserves respect,” Moore continued. “Our policies are in place so that we can all focus on building our students’ academic focus and commitment to learning. We set the highest expectations for learning, behavior and appearance. Durags and other non-religious head coverings are not aligned with the professional appearance that we promote to our students and therefore are not allowed as part of our school day attire.” 

He wrote that the school’s dress code was instituted to prepare students for “adult roles,” opining, “One does not envision a doctor, engineer, banker, teacher, or an architect wearing one of these headcovers while at work.”

“Clearly, most would never wear a durag to a job interview,” Moore noted. “Again, it is a matter of time and place, and West Orange High School classrooms are not the appropriate setting.”  

The principal ended his statement reiterating “that this subject is simply not open to debate. Students who come to school wearing durags, baseball caps, hats, bonnets, shower caps, hoods or any non-religious headgear will have those items confiscated and be subjected to discipline.”

Moore’s statement was reportedly first shared on Instagram, but it has since been deleted. 

West Orange High School is a comprehensive four-year high school which, according to Niche.com, has nearly 2,100 students. 

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