Video of an 11-year-old girl being kicked out of her Louisiana school for wearing braided hair extensions has gone viral on social media, and reignited a heated discussion over whether private schools deliberately target minority students with hair requirements. Montrelle Fennidy, the mother of sixth-grader Faith Fennidy, said that her daughter, who attended Christ the King Parish School, a private Roman Catholic school near New Orleans, had been told on the first day of the new school year that her braided hair extensions violated school rules. According to the Fennidy’s lawyer, Inem O’Boyle, the family spent a “considerable amount of money” to change Faith’s hair, but school officials again removed her from class the next school day, summoned the parents, and sent Faith home.
“They told her not to come back,” said O’Boyle, noting that Faith had worn the same braids during two previous years spent at the school without problems.
Video of the incident, which was shared to Facebook by Faith’s brother, Steven showed the 11-year-old crying as school administrators argued with her parents. Outrage over the treatment of the youngster swiftly followed, and ballooned into viral status after it was shared on Instagram by the rapper T.I.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, RaeNell Billiot Houston, the superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said that contrary to reports Faith had not been suspended by or expelled from the school, but that the parents chose to withdraw her after refusing to comply with the school’s hair policy, under which “extensions, wigs, hair pieces of any kind are not allowed.” Parents, Houston said, had been told of an updated school policy over the summer, and that the Archdiocese “[remained] committed to being a welcoming school community that celebrates our unity and diversity.” Responding to the statement, O’Boyle denied that the family had withdrawn Faith, and repeated that school officials had told her to “not come back. Since Faith’s family still pays tuition, she continued, they also expect her to be allowed to continue attending the school.
The incident comes on the heels of a similar disturbing case at a private Christian school in Florida, where video of a 6-year-old boy being told that the school would “have to unenroll him” because he came to class wearing dreadlocks went viral and sparked widespread condemnation of hair policies that target traditional black hairstyles.
Watch the video of Faith being removed from the school below.
Read the full story at The New York Times.