TATUM, Texas (KETK) – Tatum ISD has changed its dress code and hair policy following several months of controversy between the district and parents.
Nearly one year ago, parents called for change after two students claimed they were discriminated against and asked to change their natural hairstyles because it did not follow the dress code.
“He told me that I could either cut it, braid it and pin it up, or put my grandson in a dress and send him to school, and when prompted my grandson must say he’s a girl,” said Randi Woodley.
“With my son’s dreadlocks, sometimes they do fall in front of his face, so I felt it would be easier to put his hair up, but then that’s a problem,” explained kambry Cox.
The 2019-2020 Tatum ISD dress code stated, “No ponytails, ducktails, rat-tails, male bun or puffballs shall be allowed on male students. ALL male hair of any type SHALL NOT extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, as it lays naturally.”
Following the claims, parents packed the administration building to see what the school district had to say regarding the accusations.
“Recently, social media claims have been made that Tatum ISD’s hair code is racially discriminatory and that District administration suggested a student identify as the opposite sex for purposes of limiting the applicability of that policy. The District vehemently denies these claims,” said Superintendent J.P. Richardson.
Both parents told KETK news that their children were expelled as a result of not changing their hair. The board denied these claims and released a statement regarding their absence.
“The students were not expelled. Further, Board members did not decide that the students would not be allowed to come back unless they cut their hair,” said Heather Castillo, who represents the district, to KETK News in a written statement.
Nearly nine months later, Tatum ISD has adjusted their dress code which states, “Hair, including facial hair, must be neat, clean, and well-groomed. No unnatural hair color, or hairstyle that is deemed disruptive. Hair should not cover the eyes.”
“The district’s dress code is established to teach grooming and hygiene, prevent disruption, and minimize safety hazards. Students and parents may determine a student’s personal dress and grooming standards, provided that they comply with the following.”
The parent’s lawyer released the following statement.
“Though they were hesitant to make the change, Tatum ISD finally did the right thing by embracing a policy that is gender-neutral, and does not single out any group based on skin color or racial classification,” said Waukeen McCoy. “Tatum ISD’s decision raises the standard for other school districts across Texas, who should immediately move to replace outdated and discriminatory dress code policies.”