Judge temporarily blocks school from enforcing ‘natural hair’ policy

TERRYTOWN, La. (WGNO) — A district judge has intervened in the controversy at Christ the King school in Terrytown and ruled that the school cannot enforce a “natural hair” policy that has sparked outrage nationwide.

The parents of two sixth grade students at the Terrytown Catholic school filed a lawsuit this week after both students were sent home because one had braids in her hair and the other had extensions.

According to the lawsuit, both children, who are African-American, were harassed at school over their hairstyles and given reprimand letters that had to be signed by their parents. The school has a new policy for students to have only “natural” hair.

One of the students’ parents had to provide a doctor’s note about her child’s medical hair loss condition and agree to cut the extensions to the nape of the neck.

The other student’s mother talked with school administrators and agreed to restyle her daughter’s hair so that the braids wouldn’t extend beyond her shoulders, according to the lawsuit.

But the new style wasn’t enough for school administrators, who pulled the student out of the classroom the following week and asked her mother to pick her up from school, according to the lawsuit.

When the mother arrived, the school’s principal, Dawn Castillo, reportedly told her that the student’s braids were distracting because girls “have the tendency to twirl and flip their extensions,” the lawsuit states.

Her mother responded that young girls often flip and twirl their hair, whether it’s “natural” hair or not. Castillo reportedly responded by saying “it’s just something we want. We don’t want them wearing fake hair.”

That’s when the student’s family posted an Instagram video of the crying sixth-grader, which quickly went viral and made headlines across the country.

Archdiocese Catholic Schools Superintendent RaeNell Billiot Houston said the student’s mother chose to remove her from the school, but according to the lawsuit, the child’s tuition was canceled for the month of September, and the student has not been allowed to return to school.

The lawsuit accuses Christ the King of discrimination over its new policy and says “it has a disparate impact on the African American female population of students at Christ the King.”

“On information and belief, only the African American girls who attend Christ the King have been inspected, investigated, reprimanded and subsequently punished for wearing extensions.”