MONT BELVIEU, Texas — While a Mont Belvieu teen who wouldn’t be allowed to walk at his high school graduation if he didn’t cut his dreadlocks is headed to the Oscars, his cousin continues to face the consequences for violating Barbers Hill ISD’s grooming code.
Kaden Bradford is a sophomore at Barbers Hill High School. His cousin DeAndre Arnold has decided to transfer to another district after being left with the ultimatum of cutting his locs or risk not participating in his graduation.
Halfway through his sophomore year, Kaden is doing what it takes to stayed focused on his school work.
“Before this all took place, it was pretty much normal for me," Kaden said. "I’d go to class. I’d get work done. Then I’d go home.”
However, over the last few weeks, it’s been harder to concentrate with the attention he and his cousin DeAndre have gotten over their hair.
“I tend to stay away from the negative side, because you don’t want to feed into that energy, so I’m just mainly been getting the positive,” Kaden said.
Kaden’s also been suspended for not following the district’s hair policy that states boys can’t have long hair, specifically past the earlobes.
“I feel like there should be some leniency for guys who feel like they’d want to grow their hair because the length of our hair shouldn’t be, shouldn’t determine whether we’re able to get an education or not," he said.
Kaden’s mom, Cindy Bradford, said cutting his hair is not an option.
She said her son missed classes for three weeks but made him go back to serve in school suspension.
“I didn’t want him to run into the truancy, and I feel like that why make him sit at home. He didn’t do anything wrong," Cindy Bradford said.
She said Kaden’s hair is part of his heritage, and she supports her son’s decision to stand for what he believes in.
“If he cut his hair, that’s like cutting a part of his life. It’s his culture. It’s his background. It’s his roots. It’s his ancestors," she said.
“I feel like it may be a little excessive, but it’s almost like if they want me to cut it. It’d be like cutting off an arm or a leg," Kaden said.
He said leaving the district is always an option.
“I don’t want to leave Barbers Hill,” Kaden said. “I’ve been here since daycare, first grade and up until now. Why would I want to leave?”
Kaden and his mom invite the superintendent to sit down with them so they have an opportunity to teach him about their hair and culture.
Barbers Hill ISD said any changes to the district’s grooming code would have to be made by the school board, and they won’t meeting again until Feb. 24.
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