Andrew Jones, the Amite High School valedictorian, was barred from participating in graduation ceremonies because of a beard he had worn all year but refused to shave off for the event, reported WWL-TV
Jones is African-American and the Louisiana chapter of the NAACP in Tangipahoa charged that race may be involved in the decision, said the TV news website, noting that the NAACP also was planning a rally for Jones at 2 p.m. Monday in front of the school board office in Tangipahoa Parish, located north of Hammond.
Tangipahoa school superintendent Mark Kolwe told WVUE-TV
that the school system has a policy that male students should be clean shaven and he personally told Jones that he had to cut off his facial hair before taking the stage.
Jones argued that no one made an issue of his facial hair during his senior year, in which he was a straight-A student and was one of the school's top athletes, noted WVUE-TV.
"I feel they should have let me march," Jones told WVUE-TV. "The hair on my face has nothing to do with school. I wasn't distracting anybody."
WVUE-TV said other students who complied with the school's request to shave were allowed to participate.
"How can you take away his moment?" argued Jones' aunt Sabrina Davis on Facebook, according to ABC News
. "You will never feel his pain, and you can never give his moment back to him ..."
Kolwe said, though, that he had no choice but to enforce the ban with all of the students, but declined to say why the policy was not followed during the school year before graduation.
"The board has a policy and we have to adhere to the policy until it gets changed," Kolwe said, noted ABC News. "Until it changes, I'm responsible for following it."
The local NAACP told WWL-TV that it found past commencement ceremony photos at Amite High School of white students participating with beards.
© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.