Memphis mother withdraws son from Harding Academy after hair controversy

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis mother withdrew her son from Harding Academy, after being told her son’s hair violated the dress code.

Kameta Hopkins said her 9-year-old son Kamren’s hair length and style should be left up to him and not the administration at Harding Academy. She said the policy is selective and there is no need for it.

“I would just want the whole hair policy, in general, to be abolished,” Hopkins said. “Like, it’s irrelevant at this day and age. It’s being made that it’s about the length of his hair. So, it’s below the brows, it’s below the ears, and it’s below the collar.”

Hopkins said she has received several notices about Kamren’s hair length within the last year. Now, she said she decided to withdraw her son from the school, after receiving another notice from Harding.

She said she decided it was best to withdraw him from a school that she feels like is singling him out because he is black.

“Hey this is, you know, Kamren is a little black boy, and this is a predominately white school,” Hopkins said. “I could go over there right now and point out many kids that are in violation of this particular policy, however they aren’t black kids. So, I just feel like they’re making a choice of when the rule is going to be enforced, and I don’t think it’s ok.”

Harding Academy issued a statement saying in part:

“Our 2020-2021 handbook (presented and agreed to by all parents) states that boys’ hair must not be longer than the eyebrows, top of the collar, or middle of the ear. Students are not required to cut their hair if they style it during the school day in a way that meets the dress code. This policy applies to all male students regardless of age or race.”

Kemeta now shares a downtown office with her son, who is enrolled in the Shelby County Schools system. She admitted navigating through virtual learning is a challenge and supports her son’s decision not to cut his hair.

“His whole social environment is there,” Hopkins said. “He’s played sports there, the coaches are there, and he’s sad. He wants to go to school, and he doesn’t want to stay here with me all day.”

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