Students suspended over hair color in St. Helena

Breona and
Breona and

GREENSBURG, LA (WAFB) - Sisters who attend St. Helena Central High say they were suspended because of the color of their hair. One of the sisters says the school principal told them, and several students Wednesday, they were breaking dress code. The girls say because they're biracial, their hair is different. They also say the principal told the students some of their hair color could be considered gang related.

Except for interaction between students and teachers, things inside the classrooms at St. Helena Central High are pretty quiet.

But a glance inside any classroom and you'll find students with all different hair types, different colors and different styles. Hair is not part of the curriculum, but it has become a subject since yesterday.

"I was sent to the office because of my hair color," said Breona Harrell, a freshman at the school. She says Wednesday, when she got off the school bus she was told to go to the principal's office, where there were a dozen other students. "He told me I could not come back on campus unless this was out of my head and it was dyed black."

Harrell's hair is two different shades of brown. She says her hair is different because she is biracial.

In the principal's office, she says the students were told their hair color could be seen as gang related.

"Kids that wear that are in gangs and it makes you look like you're in a gang if you have that in your head," she said the principal told them.

Principal Reginald Douglas says the student rule book outlines students can only wear their natural hair color.

"If they have dark hair and have a lot of blonde hair, that will become an issue," he said. Douglas says this is not something he suddenly sprang on the students. Two weeks ago he told them hair should not be a distraction.

When asked what a natural hair color is, the Douglas responded, "Black, brown hair ... it depends when you look at the child, it depends."

Douglas says he doesn't want attention taken away from education on campus. Harrell says this policy is keeping her from doing just that and she wants to be back in class, without having to change her hair color.

The principal tells us the other students did fix their hair and were back at school on Thursday. As far as the Harrell sisters, he says it was determined that there is nothing wrong with their hair or the color.

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