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Parents debate local district’s hairstyle policy at school board meeting

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 11:41 PM CDT
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Troy, Texas (KWTX) - A Troy ISD schoolboard meeting, Monday, was ground zero for a battle over school dress code relating to hair. The meeting in the commons of Troy High School was packed with parents and community members.

The issue of dress code and hairstyles was not on the meeting agenda but parents on both sides of the issue took the stand during the public comment portion of the meeting to make their case for why the board should keep the dress code policy or change it.

The public comments at Monday’s meeting were prompted by 11-year-old Maddox, a 6th grader at Raymond Mays Middle School, being placed in in-school suspension because of his hairstyle.

Maddox’s mom, Hope Cozart, says he wears his hair in a braid and a bun to honor his African heritage since he is biracial.

However, the Raymond Mays Middle School dress code policy which was instated in 2018 specifically forbids boys from wearing their hair in “a ponytail, top knot, bun or similar styles,” according to the student handbook.

Maddox has reportedly been punished with in-school suspension for 11 school days.

Cozart and her civil rights attorney Waukeem McCoy say the policy is discriminatory based on race and gender and have threatened to file a lawsuit.

“I expect today to be the last day my son ever has to sit in in school suspension for his hair,” Cozart said during Monday’s meeting. “I am doing this for a change that is long overdue and for people that can’t speak for themselves. "

A Troy ISD parent, Todd Milton, who spoke at the meeting as well said more than in-school suspension, 11-year-old Maddox should have been sent home from school until his hair style is compliant or the rules change.

“Don’t California our Troy,” Milton said. “Follow the rules! I don’t like driving 70 mph down I-35 but I do it. You know why? Because its a rule,” he said.

School board members could not speak on the issue tonight because it wasn’t on the agenda. The school district says the dress code policy is reviewed every three years. It’s up for review by a committee before the next school year.

Meanwhile Maddox’s family will testify at the State Capitol this week in favor of The Crown Act, legislation that would ban hair discrimination on the state level.

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