Student told to cut hair if he wanted to stay at school

Student Told To Cut Dreadlocks If He Wants to Stay at School

HOPEWELL, Va. -- A Hopewell family says their son was told he had to cut his hair if he wanted to stay at his private school in Hopewell. Isaiah Freeman's dreadlocks has been the source of controversy between his parents and West End Christian School administrators.

The school says his hair is too long.

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The family says the problem is, his hair has been that way since he was in the third grade and he's attended the school the entire time.

"I was a bit confused because my hair has been that way for so long," said Isaiah.

Isaiah's dad, Shawn Freeman, says they pulled Isaiah's hair back so it would not be in his face or over his hears.

Isaiah said he was hoping that would fix the issue, "I was thinking they would approve it and I can go to school as normal."

School administrators found that the pulled back hair was unacceptable and said he needed to cut it or he would face a referral every day until it was.

West End Christian School principal Amy Griggs says they have asked the same of other male students. If they excused Isaiah, it could open the door to students challenging other policies.

Shawn says he told the school a cultural issue needs to be addressed. "As he gets older people are uncomfortable with him having dreadlocks and getting older and bigger. It's an issue of people feeling uncomfortable with a young black male having dreadlocks and having a certain persona of negativity."

Principal Griggs says the dress code is to hold students to a higher standard and each year families sign a handbook agreeing to follow the rules, which the Freeman's signed.

She said she's extremely saddened that Isaiah won't return to their school, calling him a respectful and exemplary student.

Principal Griggs says she looks at this as a learning experience. She says after speaking with the parents again, the School Board is considering diversity training and possibly changing the hair policy for next year.

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