A ‘Trini’ teenager who lives in Texas is claiming that he was suspended and told that he would not be able to walk in his high school graduation ceremony unless he cut his dreadlocks.
DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, told CBS This Morning and local news station KPRC that his hair had always met the school district’s policies until recently when he received an in-school suspension after he refused to cut it.
DeAndre said that his father is from Trinidad and that many men in his culture grow dreadlocks. “I really like that part of Trinidadian culture; I really embrace that,” he told KPRC.
His mother, Sandy Arnold, told the news station that after Christmas break and three months before graduation, the school district changed the dress code policy.
“They say that even (when) my hair is up if it were to be down it would be not in compliance with the dress code. However, I don’t take it down in the school,” DeAndre said.
Sandy told CBS This Morning that she believes the lack of diversity in the district is the issue. “There is no people of color on the school board. I get it that they don’t understand his hair,” she said.
Sandy added to KPRC that she attempted to reach out to board members and the superintendent to come to a conclusion together. But she claims she never received a response.
Barbers Hill School District did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
DeAndre is not allowed back in school and cannot walk in his upcoming graduation until his dreadlocks are cut, Sandy told KPRC.
And she vowed that he wouldn’t be doing so.
“Are you going to cut his hair? Absolutely not, this is a part of who he is. So absolutely not going to cut his hair,” Sandy told the news station.
In a written statement obtained by KPRC, Barbers Hill School District said, “We do have a community-supported hair length policy & have had for decades. Barbers Hill is a state leader with high expectations in all areas!”