Despite the widespread backlash against people and institutions that discriminate against black hair – and the anti-black implications – a school in Arizona has been recently called out for targeting a 7th-grade student for wearing braids. The school said the 12-year-old violated the school's dress code.
Last Wednesday, mom Brittany Anderson received a phone call from Teleos Preparatory Academy, a public charter school, that her son, Nasir, violated school dress code for wearing his hair in braids. Anderson described the incident in a post on Facebook, explaining that she was told her son could not return to the school unless he changed his hairstyle.
"Today I received a called from a teacher stating that my son's hair was against the school uniform policy, he is clean cut with [two] french braids going to the back," she wrote in part. "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." She later added, "...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 stated that there are not enough parents who challenge the handbook."
According to a local Phoenix ABC15 report, the school's handbook lists braids, mohawks and ponytails as examples of prohibited hairstyles. But Anderson told ABC15 that Nasir had been wearing braids for months without issue.
"If (the school) would have pointed that out to me earlier in the year, then I would have nipped it in the bud and not let him grow his hair out," Anderson said.
Great Hearts Academies, which Teleos Preparatory Academy is a part of, released the following 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."
Anderson told ABC15 that she challenged the handbook and its restriction on hair, as her son follows the school's other policies, like uniform and attendance. She has since enrolled Nasir in another school.
“I never want my son to feel as though he doesn’t have a voice,” Anderson said in an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle.
Blavity reached out to Great Hearts for comment for comment.
Robert Wagner, the superintendent of Arizona schools told us that the Anderson family has been welcomed back to the school.
"A student at Great Hearts Teleos Preparatory Academy was told his hairstyle did not comply with the current dress code policy at our schools," Wagner wrote. "This event has triggered an internal review to determine what changes may be needed to ensure this policy is sensitive to the cultural diversity we are proud to have in our academies. We have reached out to the family of the student involved to explain that their son is welcome at Great Hearts with no change in hairstyle. Our grooming policy is well-intentioned, but we appreciate this young man and his family bringing this forward and will make appropriate adjustments."