AMITE, La. (WPVI) —
A teenager in Louisiana is the student of the year in his high school, but he was still not allowed to take the stage at his graduation ceremony on Wednesday because of his facial hair.
Andrew Jones never made anything less than an ‘A,’ his entire four years at Amite High School.
“He’s got a child, he’s got a baby, and he’s still managed those grades,” Andrew’s aunt Sabrina Davis said.
He is also excelled in all sports, and landed a college scholarship.
“Going to play football at Southeastern,” Jones said.
Jones proudly donned his cap and gown and headed to the SLU Assembly Center to take his spot on the stage.
The program even had his name on it: Student of the Year.
But school officials took his cap and gown away from him and barred him from the stage.
Jones and a group of students were told they had to shave before they could march across the stage.
Jones shaved the sides, but chose not to shave the goatee. And he wasn’t allowed to participate in his own graduation.
“They told us the morning of the graduation, but I seen other schools that graduated a couple days before us, and all their students had this and they still graduated,” Jones said.
For Jones, the graduation night rules were especially confusing since he said no one made an issue about his facial hair during the entire regular school year.
“I went all four years with it,” Jones said.
The Amite High principal declined a WVUE’s request for an interview.
But Superintendent Mark Kolwe told WVUE that he couldn’t answer for what school administrators did previously.
He did say that the Tangipahoa Parish school system has a policy that male students must be clean shaven, and he says that Jones was denied the stage, after Kolwe himself personally tried to get Jones to shave.
“I feel they should have let me march, the hair on my face has nothing to do with school; I wasn’t distracting anybody,” Jones said.
Others who did shave, were allowed to participate.
“They need to check themselves, poor administration,” Jones’ mother Julie Ricard said.
The local NAACP is looking into the matter.
“His robe and cap were taken so he could not march, and that it is just wrong,” NAACP Chapter President Patricia Morris said.
Andrew Jones will never have another high school graduation.
“It’s something I can’t get back,” Jones said.
But he stands by his decision.
A school board member says she’ll investigate if the school violated any policies.
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