A high school student in Monroe, La., continues to face harassment from administrators because he dyed the top half of his hair blond, leading his family to file a discrimination complaint.
Jaylon Sewell, who is the manager of his Neville High School football team, was repeatedly pulled from class for coloring his hair in the style of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. According to the New York Daily News, the 16-year-old’s family filed a formal complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in November alleging officials discriminated against Jaylon by not allowing him to go to class “when white students with dyed hair were allowed to attend class.”
The school district dress code prohibits students from sporting “hairstyles and hair dyed outlandish colors, which cause a disruption to the educational process …”
Jaylon’s family says he is one of more than 20 other Black kids whom administrators keep addressing for wearing braids, locs, dyed hair and having tresses deemed “too nappy.” The Sewells’ complaint is open and an investigation is ongoing as the family claims the Monroe City School District has retaliated against Jaylon, whose hair remains blonde, by “suspending him, attempting to expel him and barring him from participation on the NHS football team.”
After Jaylon and more than 12 classmates were pulled from class for their hairstyles, they were unable to go home without a parent, back to class or eat lunch. Instead, they had to sit outside the school offices in the common area, according to the Sewells. Jaylon’s mother, Bonnie Sewell, sent her son back to school the next day only to have him pulled from class once again because, an admin told her, her son’s hair caused a distraction.
“I told him Jaylon’s hair was not causing a disruption to the educational process,” Bonnie Sewell told the Daily News. “But, he was causing a disruption to Jaylon’s educational process by denying him the right to attend classes.”
Bonnie Sewell confronted the superintendent, Dr. Brent Vidrine, in the hallway, who questioned why she would let Jaylon dye his hair, pointing to his need to conform to survive in corporate America.
“I told him I’m not concerned with him in corporate America yet,” Bonnie Sewell said. “I’m concerned with where he is now. He’s in high school and I would rather him experiment now instead of when he does make it to corporate America.”
Jaylon was finally allowed to go to class, but he and his mother say he still gets harassed by the administration.