A 12-year-old who claimed she risked expulsion if she did not straighten or cut her afro hair has been told she may continue to attend the school as long as she styles it differently.
On Monday Vanessa VanDyke says she was told she had a week to decide whether to cut her natural hair or leave Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida, WKMG reported.
But she was adamant she didn’t want to change, explaining to the channel: “It says that I’m unique.”
“First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”
VanDyke has had the same hairstyle since the beginning of the school year but it only became an issue after she started being teased over it, says her mother Sabrina Kent.
Kent claims the school reacted to the family’s bullying complaint by dishing up the ultimatum – cut it, straighten it or leave.
The school has a dress code in its student handbook, which states: “Hair must be a natural colour and not be a distraction,” and goes on to state examples that include, but are not limited to, mohawks, shaved designs and rat tails.
But the while the school says she will not face expulsion, it is now asking for VanDyke to conform to its dress code.
A statement sent to Local 6 by the school reads: “We are not asking her to put products in her hair or to cut her hair. We are asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook.”
Kent says she will discuss her options with her daughter over thanksgiving.
Hair, it seems is a contentious issues in schools. Two months ago, 7-year-old Tulsa girl Tiana Parker changed schools after she was forbidden to wear dreadlocks.
Emma Walsh said her son Tyler was told he should be taught in isolation after being persecuted by classmates for the colour of his hair.