A Texas 4-year-old is in a hairy predicament. Jabez Oates’ long mane violates the appropriately named Barbers Hill Independent School District’s dress code and he may not return to his preschool until his hair is shorn, mom Jessica was told, CW39 reported
“I bought him all his school supplies, his school clothes, his backpack, and he was enthralled. Now he’s confused as to why he can’t go to school anymore,” Oates told the outlet.
She said she knew the long hair would violate the code but thought Jabez could be excused for cultural reasons. “My family is American-Indian. We are Cocopah Indian and that was the documentation that I was going to provide for the reason for my son’s long hair,” Oates explained. “It’s a signal of strength.” The principal contacted the mom and told her documentation isn’t enough.
“Apparently, the school board is a stickler for rules and can’t think of any religions or cultures that would require long hair,” Oates said. Jabez went to school two days last week once with his long hair down and once with his hair in a bun and both styles were deemed inappropriate, the outlet said.
He was sent home because the black hair tie used to put his hair in a bun was considered an “inappropriate hair accessory.” Oates is now seeking out day-care options and said she has received tons of backlash for trying to preserve his cultural identity. “It has been vile. A lot of people have told me to move and get out of here… I can’t home school because I work full time and I’m trying to find a second job. I’m a single mom and so home-schooling really just isn’t an option,” Oates said.
“All I have is the public school system and right now, that is absolutely failing my child.” She’s started a Change.org petition in an attempt to change the “sexist” school dress code. Schools Superintendent Greg Poole said Oates has the right to take her child elsewhere.
“Parents have a right to seek an appropriate educational setting for their child, just as Ms. Oates has the right to place her child in a district that reflects her personal expectations for standards of appearance,” Poole’s statement read.
“There are procedures in place for addressing concerns over policy if it is Ms. Oates’ desire to have her son educated in Barbers Hill ISD. But we would and should justifiably be criticized if our district lessened its expectations or longstanding policies simply to appease.”
Click to WATCH: Native American Boy Banned From School For Having Long Hair