Dreadlocks length controversy heats up at the Barbers Hill board meeting

MONT BELVIEU, Texas – Inside the Barbers Hill Independent School District board meeting there is a clear division on the issue of the dress code policy.

“Without rules and regulations as we know them, we will face disorder,” a citizen said.

Members of the Black Lives Matter organization turned their backs on speakers during the public form who expressed their support for the current dress code policy that has now become a controversial topic.

Barbers Hill High School student, DeAndre Arnold, was sent to in-school suspension and told he couldn’t walk during graduation until his dreadlocks are cut short to meet the district’s revised policy, which changed after Christmas break. Arnold said his refusal to cut his hair is due to his Trinidadian background. Gary Monroe, with United Urban Alumni Association, spoke to board members on his opposition to the dress code.

“You are in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act as it pertains to religious beliefs,” Monroe said.

At Monday night’s meeting, Arnold’s family and several activists took to the podium to express their discontent with the district’s current dress code policy.

“Let’s stop with the dress code. This not about dress code, this is about policing black boys,” an activist said.

DeAndre Arnold’s father, David Arnold, told the board the continuous punishment of his son is a form of bullying.

“I won’t stand for anybody bullying my child. He has rights. All he wants to do is graduate,” David Arnold said.

Despite several attempts by the family to engage the board into a conversion, the board chose not to place the topic on the upcoming agendas for further discussion.

“This is a public participation, not an action item dialogue,” said superintendent Greg Poole.