A DeKalb County school has found itself on the edge of controversy — this time, surrounding a policy that allegedly dictates hairstyles for black students.
At issue for many posting about the image online were pictures showing various young black males, faces shielded by yellow Post-It notes, with haircuts featuring different designs was used to show students at Decatur’s Narvie J. Harris Traditional Theme School what styles would be acceptable for school. According to the pictures, mohawks and designs etched into a young man’s hair was not acceptable, while cuts featuring hair even across the head would pass muster.
The image, shared more than 3,500 times on Facebook and found in various tweets and Instagram posts, apparently has been used in previous years with students to show them acceptable hairstyles.
“Many Georgia school opened today and racial profiling is still present,” Atlanta educator Jason B. Allen posted on Twitter in a tweet accompanying the image. “Imagine being a black boy greeted by this. Sadly, this shows systematic bias against all black boys...”
District officials said in a statement late Thursday that the images did not reflect the district’s systemwide grooming policy.
“The images depicted in this post in no way reflect a (DeKalb County School District) policy regarding appearance,” officials said. “This was a miscommunication at the school level and is being handled by school leadership. Nontraditional schools at (the DeKalb County School District) sometimes have the option to enforce dress code and style standards.”
People commenting online posted about the designs and how they have been handled elsewhere previously. One teacher remarked that she watched another teacher use permanent markers to fill in designs. Earlier this year, a Texas administrator was suspended for filling in a student’s design with a black Sharpie marker.
School began Thursday for several metro Atlanta school districts, and many local groups are offering school supplies and hairstyles for students as they prepare to return to class. Sunday, rapper 21 Savage is holding an event near the school in Decatur, the fourth annual “Issa Back 2 School Drive,” here boys and girls will receive free haircuts and hairstyles, as well as back-to-school supplies.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.