East Texas school district disputing claims after student told she couldn’t walk because of hair

Local News

GLADEWATER, Texas (KETK) – The superintendent of Gladewater ISD is denying claims after a mother says she was told her daughter could not graduate unless she removes her braids or covers them.

“KJ has been a student at Gladewater High School all her high school life, and she has had throughout the years and during this year and last years her braids, different colors, nothing outlandish, just regular hair,” said Kieana Hooper, the mother.

“I shouldn’t be defined by my hair just to walk across the stage, any person should have the right to wear their hair in any style they want to and be able to graduate,” said KJ.

KJ Hooper

The school’s attorney sent a letter to Hooper’s attorney explaining that Cathy Bedair, the Gladewater High School principal, said the issue originally arose because KJ’s hair was no longer of natural color, not because of her braids.

“Accordingly, Principal Bedair telephoned your client and told her that the color of Kienjanae’s hair would need to be changed so it met dress code requirements,” the letter said. Adding, “Gladewater ISD does not understand how the confusion arose.”

After Hooper posted on social media claiming her daughter was told she couldn’t graduate, Bedair called Hooper to address the issue.

That phone call was recorded and released to KETK.

During the conversation, Bedair says to Hooper, “I never said she couldn’t graduate. What I said this morning is that it needed to be fixed before graduation, but I’m not going to with it being the year that it has I’m not going to force the issue.”

Gladewater ISD is set to hold graduation on Friday at the football field and KJ says she will walk despite the confusion and controversy.

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