DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, near Houston, Texas, said he has worn dreadlocks for years and always followed the school's dress code by tying them up. He said his hair had been in compliance with school district rules until recently, when he faced in-school suspension after he refused to cut it. His mother, Sandy Arnold, said after the Christmas holiday, three months before graduation, the Barbers Hill Independent School District changed its dress code on hair. Now the rules stipulate that for male students "hair must be clean and well groomed" and not extend below the eyebrows, the ear lobes or the top of a T-shirt collar - including when let down.
I've strived for this. I deserve this moment, to walk across stage and enter into life. My parents deserve this. Like, they're the ones who, you know, they got me through anything. And you know, they just taught me everything. And I know that the school needs to do the right thing. The policy has been condemned as "racist" by critics in recent weeks, but school officials have pushed back, saying it has been in effect for years.
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Texas high school student DeAndre Arnold said he was not allowed back in school and cannot attend graduation unless he cuts his hair. A black teenager in Texas is claiming that he was suspended and told that he would not be able to walk in his high school graduation ceremony unless he cut his dreadlocks. DeAndre said that his father is from Trinidad and that many men in his culture grow dreadlocks. His mother, Sandy Arnold, told the news station that after Christmas break and three months before graduation, the school district changed the dress code policy.
At the start of the segment, DeGeneres told Arnold, "I'm sure this is not easy or comfortable for you," referring to his appearance on television. Arnold has said he was suspended over the length of his dreadlocks and told by his principal that he needed to cut his hair to return to school. Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics. This is the first time anything has come up. And now, you haven't been in school for weeks because of this situation. Arnold has worn dreadlocks for years and has said he always followed the dress code because he kept his hair off his shoulders, above his earlobes and out of his eyes, by tying up his dreadlocks. He told DeGeneres he was informed he was in violation of the dress code after the Christmas break.