Five other JCPS schools to address controversial hair policies - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Five other JCPS schools to address controversial hair policies

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- At least five other JCPS schools have similar hair policies in place to the one that was temporarily suspended by Butler High -- and one school has called a special meeting to address it this week.

According to school dress code policies reviewed by WDRB News, Greathouse/ Shryock Traditional Elementary, Audubon Traditional Elementary, Carter Traditional Elementary, Johnson Traditional Middle and Jefferson County Traditional Middle each have restrictive hair guidelines for male students in place. 

Tiffany Marshall, the principal of Audubon, says the recent controversy over Butler High School's hair policy was discussed among her school's leadership team last week.

In response, she decided to put her school's dress code -- which states male students cannot have designs, lines, cornrows, spikes, mohawks and/or hair coloring -- onto the agenda for Audubon's special-called site based decision making (SBDM) council meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

"We have been in the process of updating our handbook, as well as our mission and vision," Marshall told WDRB News on Monday. "As part of that process, we will discuss the recent controversy at Butler and what would be best for our school."

Marshall said in addition to the hair policy, the SBDM is also looking to revise its rule that currently doesn't allow boys to wear earrings.

Under state law, dress code policies are left up to schools' decision-making councils, but JCPS officials have been reaching out to all schools' decision-making councils, "encouraging" them to review their policies.

"We appreciate that the concern has been brought to our attention, because our board of education is adamant in its policies about being inclusive," Superintendent Donna Hargens told WDRB last week.

Jennifer Brislin, a spokeswoman for JCPS, says Jefferson County Traditional Middle School is planning a meeting next week to revisit it's hair policy portion of its dress code -- which states:

No severe contrasting highlights (this includes contrasting colors woven into braids), no ombre hair coloring (dark at the top, light at the bottom or vice versa), no shaved heads, no spiked styles with or without dyed or frosted tips, no extreme color changes, no cut-in or zigzag designs, no tails, no braids or dreads on males, no hairstyles that are extreme, no distracting hair ornaments, no headbands across the forehead, no scarves or hair adornments that hang below the collar, no distracting or attention-getting hair styles.

"Each of the four schools have plans to address these policies," Brislin said.

Butler's policy -- which was suspended by the school's SBDM council on Friday -- had banned hairstyles often worn by African Americans like corn rows, twists, dreadlocks, afros longer than two inches and braids on young men. it also prohibits mohawks and unnatural colors.

"Right now, I think it was important for us to suspend the policy immediately, so we have an opportunity to get an open and honest conversation about the hair issue," said William Allen, the principal at Butler. 

On Wednesday morning, it was announced that a special-called meeting of Butler's SBDM will be held on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the school's cafeteria. It is expected that the council will discuss recommended changes to the hair policy.

Those recommended changes are included below:

                             Butler Traditional High School Recommended Hair Policy Language

  • Hair must be well-groomed, well-kept, and at a reasonable length.
  • Reasonable length for males means hair no longer than three inches and must be above the collar, the ears, and the eyebrows.
  • Both males and females must have a natural hair color.
  • No unnatural hair colors (e.g. pink, orange, green, purple, blue, etc.)
  • No severe contrasts
  • Hair must be free from designs, names, or lines cut into the hair.
  • One straight line is permissible to be cut into the hair for a part.
  • Females only may wear headbands.
  • Must be worn in the hair, not across the forehead
  • Bandanas are not allowed.

Brislin said Johnson Middle school is waiting to see what policy Butler may adopt, since most of its middle school students feed into Butler. She said no meeting has yet been scheduled at Greathouse. 

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