By: Krystle Crossman
Private schools have some of the strictest dress codes out of any school. Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida is no exception. They pointed out a line in the student handbook that stated that students were not allowed to have “dread-like” hair. There is no further specification as to what this means but one would think this would mean dreadlocks. However 16-year-old Nicole Orr was shocked and dismayed to find out that they felt her beautiful, naturally curly hair fell into this category even though there is not a single dread or braid in her hair. Her father received a call from the school telling him that his daughter needed to have her hair done because it violated the school dress code. He didn’t understand what the issue is because his daughter’s hair is natural with no dyes or specific style to it.
Orr’s parents, Eric and Secily, went to see the headmaster of Montvale Academy to speak to him about the dress code issue. They pointed out the line in the handbook that they were referring to. Secily said that her daughter was confused because all of the other girls in the school (mainly the white girls) were allowed to wear their hair naturally, so why wasn’t she? What was so wrong with her hair as it was? The headmaster of the school, Dr. Kasey Kesselring, stated that the policy was to keep hair neat and organized. Orr’s afro is too “wild” to fall in line with that according to the dean of students. Dr. Kesselring did say that the line about the “dreads” needed to go as it had the potential to single out a specific group of people which was not their intent. Orr’s parents said that they felt good about the outcome because they were able to help future students who may have “ethnocentric” hair.
Recently there was also an issue at the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Massachusetts where 15-year-old twins Mya and Deanna Cook faced punishment at school for having braid extensions in their hair. The school stated that it was against policy for any student to have hair extensions. The twins and their parents are fighting back stating that the policy is not evenly enforced and that the school was racial discriminating their daughters. The school says that extensions, dyes, and other beauty items like make-up are a distraction and are against school policies. The twins are refusing to remove the braids that they paid a lot of money to have. They stated that they are trying to explore their culture and feel like they are being targeted for doing so. Both girls are excellent students who stay out of trouble, get good grades, and are on multiple afterschool teams (which they have since been removed from due to this issue).