JACKSONVIILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville private school's dress code policy was described as discriminatory by a mother who said her 8-year-old son was forced to cut his hair in order to attend class.
Kiara Hudson's son, Garrick Austin, is a third-grader at Christian Heritage on University Boulevard. On his third day of school last week, according to Hudson, her son was told he had to cut his high top fade, as it violated the private, church-affiliated school's dress code.
"He said, 'The lady at the front desk called me about my haircut and said I had to cut my hair.' I said, 'They haven’t called me or sent home a letter and until they do that, we won’t worry about it,'" Hudson explained to News4Jax on Tuesday.
The next day, Hudson said, her son's teacher sent home a letter.
"Last Thursday, they sent home a letter explaining if I didn’t cut his hair, he couldn’t return back to school," she said. "They sent me the policy and she basically highlighted 'distracting and fad hairstyles.'"
Hudson said her son was upset. She said his hair has nothing to do with his ability to learn.
Recent headlines reveal similar incidents, including one in Florida where a Christian school in Apopka told a 6-year-old boy he couldn’t attend class until he cut his dreadlocks. A Christian school in Louisiana told a student that she had to undo her braids, calling the hairstyle “un-natural.”
Hudson said all of these incidents are culturally concerning.
"I think they should consider everyone in this policy, meaning all races, all textures of hair," Hudson said. "Actually, think about, is this distracting the children from learning? I can understand different color hair -- blue, red -- however, the type of haircut you have shouldn’t determine whether you’re learning in class or not."
After reviewing Christian Heritage's dress code policy for the 2018-19 school year, News4Jax spoke with a school spokesperson who said, “All parents agree to the dress code policy when choosing to send their children to Christian Heritage.”
But despite the agreement, Hudson said, the policy is unfair to children with different textures of hair and unfair to parents.
"I don’t like that you’re basically overriding my decision as a parent to cut my child’s hair," she said.
Regarding Christian Heritage students' hair, the school's dress code policy states:
Hair must be clean and neatly combed. For boys, length should be above collar, mid-ear, and above eyebrows. Hairstyles should be appropriate and consistent with good grooming and in no way a distraction to instruction. Fad hairstyles featuring different colors, unusual figures or designs cut in the hair, or ponytails on boys are not acceptable. Hair styles which are short in one area and long in another are not acceptable. Hair styles which draw attention to the student or cause them to stand out are not acceptable. Caps and hats are not to be worn inside the buildings."