South Dakota high school says Black student must cut his hair for dress code

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Directors at a South Dakota highschool told 14-year-old freshman Braxton Schafer’s mother and father on Friday that he should minimize his hair or depart the college.

Braxton, who’s Black, wears his hair in conventional African twists often called locs. The size of his hair hasn’t been a difficulty earlier than, his mom Toni Schafer informed The Argus Leader on Sunday. He has been within the Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Colleges system since sixth grade, first attending St. Mary for sixth grade, then grades seven and eight on the junior highschool.


The present uniform code specifies that boys’ hair size should be above the collar.

“We don’t essentially agree with the rule,” Derrick Schafer, Braxton’s father and Toni’s husband, mentioned. “We predict it’s culturally biased.”

College coverage dictates the size of scholars’ hair, not the model or tradition, Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Colleges president Kyle Groos informed the Argus Chief on Saturday.

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“Can college students put on dreadlocks? Sure, they will,” Groos mentioned. “We merely need the size of the hair to be on the collar or proper above the collar. Proper there may be what we ask for. To be clear, neat and well-cared for.”

Chloe Goldade, public info officer for the Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Colleges system, mentioned Braxton was amongst “upwards of about 20 male college students requested to conform” with the coverage since Aug. 18.

The gown code coverage at O’Gorman is reviewed each 5 years, and was final up to date in 2018, Groos mentioned.

Clearly, some folks might or might not agree with (the coverage),” Groos mentioned. “However as for us as a Catholic faculty, we’ve got our expectations as mother and father after they enroll, understanding what our handbook and what it expresses on gown code. It’s not prefer it hasn’t been reviewed.”

‘He feels form of like an outsider’

Toni mentioned Braxton isn’t prepared to talk about his hair but as a result of it’s been onerous for him.

“It’s extremely nerve-racking, and he feels form of like an outsider anyhow, as a result of while you’re one in every of only a few (Black college students), and I believe he is perhaps the one one there with locs, he’s devastated, principally,” Toni mentioned. “He wished to remain as a result of he likes his mates.”

On Wednesday, Toni mentioned she was approached by an assistant principal at the highschool at an open home. The administrator was debating whether or not he ought to say one thing or not, however informed Toni that he felt Braxton’s hair was too lengthy, Toni mentioned.

“I mentioned it was cultural; it’s been that means,” Toni mentioned. On Thursday morning, Toni mentioned she emailed highschool principal Joan Mahoney asking to debate Braxton’s hair in a gathering with Derrick.

Braxton performs within the drumline within the marching band and performs on the soccer group. Toni mentioned Mahoney referred to as her on Thursday night time in the course of the sport to inform her the size of Braxton’s hair is the problem, not Braxton’s tradition as a Black pupil with locs.

Mahoney agreed to have Toni and Derrick come to the college on Friday to satisfy about Braxton’s hair. They mentioned how Braxton has had the identical hair in sixth, seventh and eighth grade whereas the present coverage was in place with out there being a difficulty, Derrick mentioned.

“It was at all times cultural,” Derrick mentioned. “We had been involved with the timing of them bringing this up, as a result of the college yr had already began. When this was being mentioned with us, it appeared like there have been a variety of different alternatives to have that dialogue.”

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Braxton’s mother and father mentioned compromises to the coverage with directors, similar to placing Braxton’s locs up in an updo so it wouldn’t be touching his collar, however they are saying directors informed them they couldn’t do “man buns” anymore, which isn’t explicitly acknowledged in present gown code coverage.

Lengthy locs presentpower, spirituality and energy

What makes locs important is their size, Toni mentioned, noting that size is “really the necessary piece to the entire model.”

“It’s not the precise loc itself; it’s the size, and the power, spirituality and energy, it’s all within the size,” Toni mentioned.

Toni referenced the biblical story of Samson to the directors, a person whose seven locs had been mentioned to be the supply of his energy and power, and his dedication to the Lord.

Directors once more requested Toni and Derrick to make Braxton observe the coverage, and so they replied that Braxton wouldn’t be slicing his hair. They requested at a minimal that Braxton might end the semester along with his hair in order that he wouldn’t miss out on freshman soccer and marching band.

By Saturday afternoon, the college emailed the Schafers to allow them to know that as a result of directors hadn’t “addressed” Braxton’s hair size in junior highschool, they’d enable Braxton to complete the semester so he can compete in his actions. Derrick mentioned Braxton will switch out of Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Colleges after this fall semester is up.

After I noticed (Braxton’s) face after we informed him what (the directors) mentioned, it’s simply actually onerous,” Toni mentioned.

Toni and her two oldest sons, Teegan and Drake Schafer, are all O’Gorman alumni. Toni and Derrick are left questioning in regards to the timing of the choice directors made to inform Braxton to chop his hair, and left wishing their son might have had a traditional faculty yr.

The issue is, it’s being arbitrarily utilized,” Derrick mentioned. “He’s been within the system for 3 years with the identical size hair. We’re confused on why it’s grow to be a difficulty now. Why? They’ve had loads of probabilities to debate it with us.”

“They’ve made it so we don’t have choices,” Toni added, noting they want Braxton would have had a good shot at beginning at a brand new faculty, collaborating in actions and having a traditional freshman yr with out having to chop his hair.

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