‘BASELESS CLAIMS’: Tatum ISD responds to discriminatory accusations concerning dress code

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TATUM, Texas (KETK) – Inside the Tatum ISD Administration building, people packed into the small room, lining the hallway, eager to hear what the school district had to say regarding the recent discriminatory accusations.

The Tatum ISD held a special board meeting Monday night to address the recent controversy over what the district says was a dress code violation and parents are saying is racially discriminating.

A statement from Tatum ISD comes just one week after parents spoke in front of the board holding signs and demanding change for boys with hair like Kellan’s.

“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.

This comes after Randi Woodley posted on Facebook that the administration said her son’s hair was not appropriate and did not follow the school dress code.

“I could either cut it, braid it, pin it up or have him to put on a dress and identify as transgender,” Woodley said.

One parent claims the town is dealing with race issues, including in the schools.

“Tatum like every other town has its racism. I say that the dress code is very racist,” said a Kambry Cox .

Cox was once a former Tatum ISD student, but she says the school environment has changed. After attending the previous school board meeting earlier this month, she felt it was important to speak at the special meeting held to question how hair affects learning.

The meeting addressed these claims but said they cannot discuss specific issues.

“The District vehemently denies these claims,” said Superindentent J.P. Richardson. “Administrators are strictly prohibited from discussing matters involving specific students.”

Kambry Cox and Randi Woodley believe their boys are victims of the dress code that fails to address racial differences.

The dress code states, “ALL male hair of any type SHALL NOT extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, as it lays naturally.”

The full dress code can be found by clicking below.

“The District remains committed to providing an inclusive environment where all students are valued. The district is deeply concerned that the baseless claims being circulated at this time have cast doubt on that commitment,” said Superintendent J.P. Richardson.

However, some parents disagree saying the dress code is not directed towards African Americans, but are just rules.

KETK asked a question to the moms, “What would you have to say to people who think these boys should just follow the school rules?”

“If you feel like your not being treated equally challenge it,” Kambry Cox.

“There have been rules since humanity, there were rules that women didn’t have rights, women couldn’t vote, there were segregated bathrooms and until somebody spoke up those were rules,” said Randi Woodley.

Although the two mothers stood in front of the board expressing their concerns, there were a large group that disagreed with their argument.

Many who signed up to speak expressed how in the Tatum community, racism doesn’t “exist here.” Continuing to encourage those who have problems with the rules set by the board, to run for a school board position in the next election.

Both mothers say they will not be giving up their fight until the rules are changed and each child is treated equally.

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