Terrytown School’s Braid Ban Causes Nationwide Controversy

Christ the King Elementary School in Terrytown kicked a hornet's nest when they repeatedly questioned a student's braided hair.

by Alex Galbraith
August 21, 2018

A private school in Terrytown caused a nationwide firestorm after repeatedly sending a girl who is African-American home from school, claiming that her braided hair violated school policy.

A video of sixth-grader Faith crying as she was made to leave Christ the King Elementary shot by her older brother Steven Fennidy went viral earlier this week, leading to responses from the rapper T.I. and journalist/activist Shaun King.

“My sister Faith and many little black girls wear extensions. She’s been attending this school for two years and wearing extensions,” Fennidy explained in a post to Facebook. “Over the summer the school has sneakily added in a policy, that no extensions, clip-ins or weaves are allowed. Faith got a notice on the first day of class and it’s ridiculous that these schools that we are PAYING for, will go in and make policies without consulting or trying to figure out how this will affect your life or your child’s life.”

Faith’s mother Montrelle Fennidy told NOLA.com that she has removed her daughter from Christ the King and is currently seeking a new school for her daughter to attend.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans stood behind their decision to send the young student home in a statement from Superintendent RaeNell Billiot Houston released on Tuesday.

“Archdiocese of New Orleans schools develop policies appropriate for their respective schools. Christ the King Elementary School has a policy that states: ‘Boys and Girls: Only the students’ natural hair is permitted,'” the statement read. “This policy was communicated to all parents during the summer and again before the first day of school, and was applied to all students. Furthermore, the school leadership worked with families as needed to ensure compliance.”

Fennidy’s family told WWL that they are consulting a lawyer about filing a potential discrimination lawsuit against the school. In the meantime, the story continues to gain steam on social media.

Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta‘s Tokyo Vanity said that Faith is her niece and shared the viral clip on her Instagram.

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T.I., who regularly uses his social media to advocate for social justice causes, shared the video along with a message for the school.

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“You are deplorable!!! A true disgrace to the very thing your school’s name says it represents,” he wrote. “How do you feel that this is a proper representation of what Jesus Christ the King & how he would want us to treat our children? You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

Mayor LaToya Cantrell spoke out on the issue during a talk with students at Morris Jeff Community School earlier this year. Students who had heard about incidents around hairstyles that had happened at other schools around the country took the opportunity to ask the mayor how she felt about it.

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“It really does speak to how we look at people and even how we may judge people, whether it’s the color of their skin or [their] hairstyle,” Cantrell told the students. “It really does touch the issue of bias and how we feel about people who have braids. I’m an African-American woman. I don’t wear braids often but I have had braids. I think it’s a part of the culture for some people and I don’t believe that it’s fair to discriminate against people with braids.”

After saying that, Cantrell said that she was open to a discussion with schools to learn why they might have put restrictions on hairstyles in place.

“I’m pretty sure the school leadership may have some reasons why. I would like to learn a little bit more about the why, but what I will say is we also have to embrace who we are as people,” she said. “I just want to make sure that..at the core we love ourselves for who we are and how we were created.”

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