Our hearts collectively broke last week when we watched 7 year old Tiana Parker cry after being sent home because her school deemed her locs “unpresentable.”
Before little Tiana was sent home, Deborah Brown Community, a charter school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had already enacted a policy describing afros, mohawks and dreadlocks as “faddish” styles. Naturally, when the news of Tiana’s mistreatment spread, many stated that there was nothing faddish about styles like the afro or wearing one’s hair in dreadlocks. Clearly, the school was either out of touch, completely culturally ignorant, discriminatory or a mixture of all three.
After Tiana’s story received national attention, from the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor/news correspondent, Melissa Harris Perry, who wrote Tiana a beautiful and encouraging letter, the school decided to review the policy once again.
Yesterday, after a two-hour board meeting, the Deborah Brown Community, a school comprised of 98 percent African American student enrollment, decided to officially change their policy. References to personal hair styles have been removed and according to the Tulsa Fox affiliate, has been replaced with this:
“Each student and the parents/guardians of the student are responsible for the personal hygiene of the student. The administration reserves the right to contact the parents/guardians regarding any personal hygiene issues that it believes causes a risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the student, his or her classmates and faculty or staff or detracts from the educational environment.”
Board Chairman, Kenneth James told Fox 23: “It was never our intent to cause any harm to Tiana or her family by our actions. If harm did occur, we apologize.”
Tiana’s parents, who have already removed her from Deborah Brown Community, said they would still like for Tiana’s former educators to issue her an official apology.
Sounds fair, if you ask me.
While it’s great that the school amended this policy, it’s alarming that a school with 98% African American student enrollment could be so unaware of the discriminatory nature of their policy. It makes me wonder if the administration reflects the student and parent population they serve. So, with that in mind, if the school officially apologizes to Tiana, do you think her parents should send her back t