A Louisiana high school prohibited one of its top students from participating in his graduation ceremony because of his facial hair.
Andrew Jones — along with 13 other students — arrived at the Amite High School graduation ceremony thinking they were going to walk across a stage and receive their diplomas in the presence of friends and loved ones, but instead they were told they all needed to shave their facial hair because it violated school rules.
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Jones, who is his class’s valedictorian, was the only one who refused to oblige because he said the rule had never been enforced before and he had been wearing facial hair throughout the duration of his entire high school career.
Because Jones refused the administration’s request, he was barred from the ceremony and forced to return his cap and gown.
Tangipahoa Schools Superintendent Mark Kolwe reportedly claimed that Jones was forewarned more than once about the rule and he refused every time.
While Jones acknowledges that he missed out on an important life event, he stands firm in his decision not to shave because “it doesn’t make sense” that the school would allow his facial hair up until the day he was set to graduate.
Aside from the fact that forbidding facial hair is a ridiculous rule to begin with, the school administration did not handle the situation with Jones properly.
If facial hair is not allowed according to some written dress code that has been in place for years, why would they ignore said policy throughout the school year then suddenly strongly enforce it when the students are on their way out?
Furthermore, a 4.0 student who has been recognized as valedictorian and student of the year should not have been turned away and disgraced on the day that was supposed to celebrate all of his hard work.
In that moment, his four years of achievements and academic success were reduced to being worth less than a little goatee.
Jones is moving on to attend college at Saint Louis University on an academic scholarship. Reports did not indicate that he would be taking this issue further with protest or legal action; however, the NAACP’s Tangipahoa Parish chapter is aware of the incident.
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