UPDATE: Butler High School has temporarily suspended a controversial dress code policy that banned hairstyles often worn by African Americans, such as corn rows, twists, dreadlocks, afros longer than two inches and braids on young men. The decision came down a meeting of the site-based council at Butler High School Friday afternoon.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The site-based council at Butler High School will hold a special meeting on Friday to discuss the school's dress code following criticism over its hair policy from an incoming state lawmaker.
Attica Scott, who previously served on Metro Council, won the Democratic primary in May for state representative in Louisville's 41st District and is running unopposed, is furious over the dress code policy her daughter, Ashanti Scott, an incoming sophomore at Butler Traditional High School, received.
"What you do with your hair to me, has nothing to do with you ability to learn as a student," Attica Scott said.
Her daughter also spoke during a press conference Thursday afternoon.
"I felt disrespected, because it said clean and neat hair, and it made me feel like, maybe my hair isn't clean," Ashanti Scott said.
The policy bans hairstyles often worn by African Americans like corn rows, twists, dreadlocks, afros longer than two inches and braids on young men.
Mohawks and unnatural colors are also prohibited. It is a policy made by the Butler's site based decision making council.
JCPS superintendent Donna Hargens says the district will review it.
"It's a policy that's been in place. It's not a new policy, and we appreciate that the concern has been brought to our attention, because our board of education is adamant in its policies about being inclusive," Hargens said.
Hargens says the policy may be corrected or revised.
"The last thing that we need to be doing is saying, 'you can't be you, you can't express your culture, you can't express your heritage,'" Attica Scott said. "We want you to be like your white teachers and the white administration that we have at this school and your white classmates who have not had the same life experience as you."
Traditional schools often have tighter dress codes, but Attica Scott says that does not give room for discrimination.
"Why would my response be to tuck tail and run? Why would my response be to leave other parents and other kids to leave this, quite frankly, racist policy? I'm not going to do it, and no other person should have to do it," Attica Scott said.
"It's about policing our kids' hair. I don't want our kids' hair to be policed. They're already policed enough," Attica Scott said.
The district says it is reaching out to all school SBDM councils to have them all review their own dress code policies.
The policy at Butler states:
"Hair styles that are extreme, distracting, or attention-getting will not be permitted. No dreadlocks, cornrolls [sic], twists, mohawks, and no jewelry will be worn in hair."
In the image posted by Scott, the words, "No dreadlocks, cornrolls [sic], twists..." had been highlighted.
Scott added a caption that said, "Soooo...my daughter had registration today and let's just say she's not happy abt the #JCPS no natural hair policy."
Scott's Twitter post generated a flurry of feedback. One person tweeted: "What is going on with JCPS? Do y'all have any black folks contributing to these policies? @JCPSSuper @JCPSKY"
Late Wednesday, JCPS responded to Scott's tweet:
Scott argued that the policy is discriminatory:
While every school is different, it is the business of #JCPS admin to know how Black kids are being policed. I will be calling tomorrow.— Attica Scott (@atticascott) July 28, 2016
Hargens responded to the controversy on Thursday morning, saying that "JCPS prides itself on equity with excellence and strives daily to be the best urban school district in America."
"That’s why we appreciate and welcome input from our stakeholders on all issues impacting the district," she said. "And, when necessary, we will provide guidance to our schools to ensure their policies are not obtrusive, do not conflict with board policy and most importantly do not infringe on the many cultures embraced across our school district."
Hargens added that she appreciates that Butler High principal William Allen is calling a special meeting of the site-based council to have this conversation.
"Additionally, we are reaching out to all school SBDM councils, encouraging them to review their own dress code policies currently in place," Hargens said.
The meeting Friday will take place at 1:30 p.m. in room 333 at Western High School, 2501 Rockford Lane due to renovations being done at Butler.
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