High school senior kicked out of graduation ceremony for wearing traditional African cloth

High School Senior Kicked Out of Graduation for Wearing Traditional African Cloth

ELK GROVE -- Nyree Holmes said goodbye to Cosumnes Oaks High School Tuesday, but he didn't get to turn his tassel or toss his cap.

The teen walked across stage wearing a traditional African Kente cloth and was met by Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies.

"A student was prohibited from participating in the remainder of the school's graduation ceremony for ignoring repeated requests to remove an unauthorized non-school regalia," said Xanthi Pinkerton, Elk Grove Unified School District spokesperson.

A cap, gown and awards is all the Elk Grove Unified School District allows students to wear at graduation ceremonies.

"I wasn't acting out of hand at all. I just wanted to show my cultural pride and religious pride," Holmes said.

The district admits the school's approach may have been aggressive. "Things could have been handled differently perhaps if we had more personnel administrators from the school side to talk to the student," Pinkerton said.

Three emails sent to parents and students before graduation highlighted the dress code requirements.

Holmes said he knew the rules, "I had also seen people with purchased cords that weren't given out by the school. I saw people with sneakers. Both of those aren't allowed, but I didn't see them being reprimanded."

Pinkerton said the school doesn't discriminate but their decades old dress code is outdated, "This is an opportunity to examine those policies both at the district level and at the school level."

Holmes, a merit scholar who said he wants to inspire people to change, will be attending CSU Fullerton in the fall.

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