Panhandle Student’s Braids Removed Without Notifying Parents
It's the season for back to school and kids getting back into the groove as well as teachers and administrators.
A lot of the local school districts have made some big changes in their dress codes. Dumas students are not allowed to wear t-shirts and jeans or shorts with tears in them. And only a week ago, the small town of Panhandle had a kerfuffle over mullets. And now, the trouble with hair seems to have gotten louder.
Heather Hardman took to Facebook on Tuesday to vent about what happened to her son at Panhandle elementary school. The now-deleted post said,
When we were contacted about the incident, we then checked the website to locate the current student dress code. Only the 2021-2022 student handbooks were available.
In the available 2021-2022 Student Handbook, there were no clauses found that stated that braids were not permitted.
Hardman went on to provide several photographs of her son Cameron that display the hairstyle he was wearing that had been taken out on campus.
On Wednesday morning, an email was sent to the principal’s secretary and the principal herself to request a copy of the 2022-2023 student handbook.
No response was received that day and it was then reported that a school board meeting was called that same evening in order to update the Student Handbook and dress code.
On Thursday morning, the website was checked and showed that only the elementary school displayed a 2022-2023 Student Handbook.
A follow up email was then sent to the superintendent and elementary school principal asking why only the elementary school student handbook had been updated.
Principal Allison Mitchell responded with,
“I do sincerely apologize that the timeline in which we work to update our school website is not quite to (sic) timeline that you may prefer.
However, my main priority each day is to provide quality education and to focus on these amazing students at Panhandle Elementary School.
Please feel free to peruse our website, and I feel confident that the staff in charge of the site will have these documents uploaded soon. You are welcome to come to the school and pick up a paper copy.”
In an interview with Panhandle ISD superintendent, Blair Brown, he denied that there was a school board meeting held to specifically update the student handbook.
Brown also stated that as of today, their lawyers believe the dress and grooming guidelines are within current law. The attorney or firm representing the school district was not readily available nor was a reply given when questioned.
The new 2022-2023 Student Handbook outlines that hairstyles would exclude mohawks, rat tails and designs shaved into hair, and dreadlocks.
Both versions of the dress code do not reference the style of braids worn by Cameron Brogan. And in both, it is stated that if there is a perceived violation of the dress code that cannot be remedied quickly at the school, the parent or guardian will be notified.
Heather Hardman says she was not notified that her son’s braids were a violation and needed to be taken out. When she visited with the principal, Hardman says that “she stated she didn’t know and wasn’t ever made aware of the situation that occurred. And Cameron said him and Brown both took [the braids] out because [Brown] said they had to be taken out immediately.”
Hardman goes on to state that Mitchell “just kept saying it says ‘no dreads’.” leading to the question of whether or not the school was aware of the difference in braids and dreadlocks in regards to natural hairstyles.
The mother of the elementary school student adopted Cameron as an infant and as part of the adoption process, agreed to ensure Cameron was given full access to his culture–which includes protective hairstyles such as braids.
“There are few POC students in this school district,” Hardman said. “You can’t tell me this isn’t a racial issue.”
As of Friday, Hardman states that she had taken her son to have his braids put back in and returned him to school.