LIBERTY-EYLAU, TX (KSLA) - An East Texas school district is back-tracking on the threat of disciplining two students over their hair color, which they initially claimed was believed to be a symbolic of gang affiliation.
Tameka Brooks checked her kids out of Liberty Eylau Middle School Monday, after school officials ordered them to dye their hair black or cut it off or face placement in an alternative education program.
"All of a sudden a month before school, 'Cut it off, because of issues with gangs here.' And I don't think it's right," Brooks complained. Her sons, Darren and Carlus, are among several students with a reddish-color streak in their hair. It's a look that Superintendent Nick Blain believed was associated with a gang in the Texarkana area, even though the students that were being asked to remove the color are not necessarily members of the gang.
"It was the decision coloration was tied to a gang," explained Blain on Monday. "That was based on a report we got from the police department and our chief of police." Therefore, the school district decided that students who do not remove the dye would be put in an alternative education program.
But on Tuesday, Blain announced that the students will not be sent home after all, because the Texarkana, Texas Police Department has since clarified that they are not associating the hair coloring with any kind of gang activity. "We have had no calls of criminal activity where the suspects have any type of coloring in their hair," Texarkana, Texas Police Sgt. Steve Shelly explains.
Still, Blain defends his original decision, "It was strictly a step to offer a safe environment for our students."
As for Darren and Carlus Brooks, there is no going back to Liberty Eylau. Their mother says she has already enrolled them in another school district, one she says "never said anything about my children's hair." She says her kids "hate it. That was home to them, and they will be a leper forever, but this right here forced them out."