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African American Terrytown Catholic School Girl Sent Home Over Hair

Aug 22, 2018 06:52AM ● By Camille Mosley

(LA Radio Network) A family is protesting a Terrytown Catholic school’s decision to send their African American daughter home on the first day of classes for hair that the school says violates the New Orleans Archdiocese dress code. The incident has drawn national attention after a social media filmed inside Christ the King Middle School. NAACP Baton Rouge President Michael McClanahan is calling for a boycott of the school.

“You talk about our hair? Well that’s our culture. To tell a kid that she cannot support her culture, to the detriment of her learning is absurd, absurd to the utmost.”

The family is filing a discrimination suit against the Jefferson Parish based middle school in response.

They say Christ the King humiliated their child at the building, and claim the school did not mention any concerns about her hair at a meet and greet that occurred before classes kicked off. McClanahan says its part of a long standing tradition of private schools throwing up barriers aimed at stopping African Americans from attending.

“Now you have affluent black families wanting to go to these private schools, and these private schools really do not want them there as you can see.”

But constitutional scholars say discrimination cases against private schools can be notoriously difficult, as the private institutions are not governed by the same laws as public schools. Loyola Constitutional Law Professor Dane Ciolino says there are restrictions on expression even at public schools, and even more so at a place like Christ the King.

“Private school students certainly don’t have a constitutional right to expression at a private institution.’

Ciolino says the family’s lawsuit is likely to be an uphill battle.

“They’d have to establish that it is a race based policy. If it is not based on race, but on race neutral grooming standards, then they are going to have a much harder time challenging it.”

The Archdiocese highlighted its hair policy in its defense, and released a statement saying “The policy was communicated to all parents during the summer and again before the first day of school.” And that “school leadership worked with families as needed to ensure compliance.” The policy is available online.

NAACP, hair, Christ the King, Louisiana, 2018, discrimination, Archdiocese of New Orleans
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