A four-year-old child has been suspended from his pre-kindergarten school for having long hair.
Jessica Oates was told that she would have to cut her son’s hair off if she wanted him to return to the school in Texas.
Before Jabez started, Jessica hoped that the school would make an exception for her son’s long hair because it is celebrated in the family’s culture.
They are Cocopah Indian and having long hair is “a signal of strength,” Jessica explained.
However, she was shocked when the school contacted her to inform her that their heritage was not a valid reason for Jabez’s long hair.
“I had the principal contact me and state that documentation would no longer be enough.
“Apparently, the school board is a stickler for rules and can’t think of any religions or cultures that would require long hair,” Jessica explained.
The mother said that the expulsion has caused a nothing but hassle.
As well as Jabez being disappointed and confused as to why he cannot return, Jessica is struggling to balance looking after him between working full time, caring for a sick relative and hunting for a second job.
She explained that she tried to compromise with the school by tying her son’s hair into a bun.
However, she was told the black hair tie that was used was an “inappropriate accessory”.
The school, Barbers Hill IDS in Mont Belvie, defended their decision to suspend the four-year-old.
Dr. Greg poole, the superintended of the school, said that policies “included expectations of appearance” and were monitored by the Board of Trustees who all have or have had children at the school.
“Parents have a right to seek an appropriate educational setting for their child, just as Ms. Oates has the right to place her child in a district that reflects her personal expectations for standards of appearance.
“There are procedures in place for addressing concerns over policy if it is Ms. Oates’ desire to have her son educated in Barbers Hill ISD.
“But we would and should justifiably be criticized if our district lessened its expectations or long-standing policies simply to appease,” he added.
Jessica has not found much support in her community.
“I’ve gotten a lot of backlash from the community about this. It has been vile. A lot of people have told me to move and get out of here,” she added.