A South Dakota family is speaking out against a Catholic high school that refuses to allow their Black son to continue to wear his shoulder-length dreadlocks, citing the school’s dress code policy.
Toni Schafer was approached by the assistant principal of O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls about her 14-year-old son, Braxton. The assistant principal told her that Braxton’s shoulder-length dreadlocks, which he’s had since he was about eight years old, violated the school’s policy.
Schafer said this was the first time since he was enrolled in 2018 that anyone has mentioned anything about his hair. She didn’t outright say the school was discriminating against her son but said: “he’s always been an outsider” and doesn’t believe it’s related to the policy.
Since being confronted by the assistant principal, Braxton’s parents have met with the school administration, hoping to find a compromise. Braxton’s father, Derrick, told KSFY that they were open to a bunch of compromises, short of cutting his hair.
Unfortunately, an agreement couldn’t be reached, and the school issued an ultimatum” cut your hair or find a new school. Braxton will transfer schools at the end of the semester. He will have to wait until the semester is up to continue playing football and participating in the school band. If he transferred now, he wouldn’t be able to continue.
“We’re sitting here talking about haircuts when I’m sending him there for an education,” Schafer said. “And we’re getting booted because we have long hair.”
The school’s president says that people know what they signed up for when they enroll their kids in the school. He explained that the style of Braxton’s hair isn’t the issue. It’s the length.
“People enroll in our Catholic schools, then they know what we stand for, and they know what we are representing and the structure and environment that we will create for their family,” President Kyle Groos said.
The school’s policy states that boys’ hair must be kept “above the eyes and not touching the collar.”