MONT BELVIEU, Texas - It was early 2020 when FOX 26 first broke the story about Barbers Hill ISD High School Senior De Andre Arnold being placed into in-school suspension over his long dreadlocks. The family told FOX 26, he was told to cut them or not graduate.
The district is facing backlash once more about its dress code policy that many believe is controversial.
"It's just hair, it’s not going to define how well they are going to do in school or how their behavior will be," said Sandy Arnold, De Andre’s Mother.
The district tells us, 36 high school students were found to be in violation of the district’s hair length policy on the first day of school, which was on August 18. Eight were found to be in violation on the second day. The district said these are district-wide numbers.
"It was a hard time, still is a hard time and it impacted my son a great deal," said Sandy,
We spoke once more with the mother of De Andre Arnold, who was caught in the middle last year while trying to complete his senior year.
"I found out right before Winter break that if De Andre went back to school without cutting his hair, it would be a problem," said Sandy. "You have a lasting effect to a child that has been picked on, targeted in our opinion because of his hair, not because of his grades, or because he was getting in trouble."
Placed in a predicament, De Andre could not cut his hair, he’s been growing it out since middle school and he told us, it’s a cultural Trinidadian tradition.
This year, the district tells us, despite what has been alleged, the students were not suspended but finished the day in in-school suspension. Students in lower grades were given a one-day grace period to trim their hair.
In De Andre’s situation, the district was accused of targeting him because he was Black.
In this case, the district says 22 students were white, 12 Hispanic, and two were categorized as other.
In a statement from Barbers Hill ISD, they tell us,
"The dress code requires that male students cannot have hair that extends below their eyebrows, earlobes, and T-shirt collar. Parents were advised prior to the start of the school year that students needed to ensure they were in compliance with the grooming code as of the first day of school."