After a boy with braided hair violated his dress code, his mom switched schools

Elise Solé
Yahoo Lifestyle

In a quest to make a larger point about students’ personal freedom, one Arizona mother pulled her son out of his school after he violated his school dress code by wearing braids.

On January 31, Brittany Anderson of Phoenix received a phone call from Teleos Prep Academy, where her 12-year-old son Nasir attends school. “A teacher [stated] that my son’s hair was against the school uniform policy, he is clean cut with 2 French braids going to the back,” Anderson wrote on Facebook. “The teacher told me I need to come and pick him up from school and basically could not return until his hair was no longer the same.”

A mother pulled her son out of school when he violated the dress code for his hairstyle. (Photo: Courtesy of Brittany Anderson)
A mother pulled her son out of school when he violated the dress code for his hairstyle. (Photo: Courtesy of Brittany Anderson)
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Anderson’s post continued: “So I asked the teacher how are these kids able to freely express themselves if your trying to prohibit them from doing so? Of course the teacher had nothing to say, and people wonder why so many kids are [committing] suicide, to me that’s a form of bullying because your talking about my sons hair. My son is 12, no behavior issues, well mannered and is no trouble at all. So I asked the teacher and the front office staff if braids are a form of being in a gang or does it signify that my son is at all gang affiliated? Still no one had anything to say, except for one who [said] that there are not enough parents who challenge the handbook.”

Nasir, 12, had been wearing his hair in braids for six months when his school objected, per its dress code. (Photo: Courtesy of Brittany Anderson)
Nasir, 12, had been wearing his hair in braids for six months when his school objected, per its dress code. (Photo: Courtesy of Brittany Anderson)

Anderson felt strongly that her son’s hairstyle was appropriate, so she chose to withdraw him from school. “I don’t believe in anyone dictating how my son should look especially if he’s following these uniform guidelines they have in place,” she wrote on Facebook. “My voice will be heard and I will not stop here.”

On Thursday, Arizona news station ABC15, which broke the story, published a portion of the school handbook, which bans shaved heads, mohawks, rattails, ponytails, and, for boys only, braids.

“My son has been going to school with braided hair for the past six months, and Monday — the day of school pictures — was the first time I was notified that it was a problem,” Anderson, 32, a mother of three, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I had previously received an email stating that hair had to be ‘well-maintained’ and ‘conservative,’ but with no further explanation.”

That day, Anderson left her job as supervisor of patient registration at a hospital and went to pick up Nasir. Once there, she says she asked a teacher why braids were a violation. “I said, ‘Do you feel braids are gang-affiliated?’ and he didn’t answer, other than, ‘It’s the rules.’”

She adds, “If this was a problem six months ago, I would never have allowed my son to grow out his hair.”

Great Hearts Academies, which operates 28 charter schools, including Teleos Prep, did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. However, it sent the following statement to ABC15:

“As is the case with many public schools in Arizona, Great Hearts has a dress code policy for all of our academies. We are transparent about this policy and it is clearly stated in the Family Handbook, which is provided to parents to review and sign before their child starts school with us. We take great care in fairly and consistently upholding our policies for all students. We understand parents have a choice about where their children attend school, and some may not agree with our dress code policy, which is certainly their right. We’re sorry to see this family leave the Teleos Prep community, but we fully respect their decision to do so.”

Anderson enrolled her son in another school that day and insists the drastic move was necessary, telling Yahoo Lifestyle, “I never want my son to feel as though he doesn’t have a voice.”

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