Pearland ISD student told she would need a note from a religious leader to wear hijab: Parents

Parents at Pearland ISD showed up at to a school board meeting Tuesday evening urging trustees to change outdated dress code rules after two incidents involving minority students sparked controversy.  

Parents said the dress code should adhere to the diverse student body population in the district.

Luciana Brady-Henderson is one of those parents urging the district to add more inclusive language to the current dress code.

“It says that hair should be worn neatly and no sort of caps, hats, or any head covering should be worn. Can there be a religious exception added to that?” Brady-Henderson said during public comments.

Luciana said nearly three weeks ago, she received a call from an assistant principal at Dawson High School after her 14-year-old daughter Hadiya Henderson wore her hijab to campus. Luciana said it’s a religious choice the freshman has been practicing in the district since the 4th grade.

“I got a call on May 2 and she said she would give her a pass for that day, but that I needed to bring in a note from my religious leader. And it couldn't be from anybody else. It had to be from my religious leader explaining why she had to have the head covering. I told my daughter that if they asked her to remove it, she could leave the building. It's just ridiculous that her religious freedom is being infringed upon,” Brady-Henderson said.

In a similarly controversial incident, last month a 7th grade at Berry Miller Junior High showed up to school with a haircut school administrators considered inappropriate due to the “carvings” in his hairline. Dona Kim Murphey, a Pearland parent said the student was given two options from administrators to fix it.

“The assistant principal offered to the child that he could either have in-school suspension or that he could be the recipient of coloring to his head with permanent marker,” Murphey said.

Murphey and other Pearland parents said they are fed up with the district’s lack of responses to their complaints.

“If it doesn't include individuals on that Policy Committee team that represent the diversity of our school district, we'll continue to have the same issues,” Sandra Gillespie said during public comment.

FOX 26 reached out to school board trustees after Tuesday’s meeting for comment. A representative with the district said the board is working on a response.