A private Christian school in Florida is facing backlash after a 6-year-old black child was turned away on his first day of class because of his dreadlocks.
Clinton Stanley Jr. was all set for his first day at A Book’s Christian Academy, but when he arrived, he was denied entry because of his hair. His dad, Clinton Stanley Sr., expressed his frustration in a now-viral video on Facebook Monday.
“My son just got told he cannot attend this school with his hair,” he said in the video. “If that’s not bias, I don’t know what is.”
The father decided to un-enroll his son right then and there, saying “I don’t even want him here, period.”
He said he was aware the school required a uniform, but was never told the dress code prohibits dreadlocks. The handbook posted online states boys may not wear “dreads, Mohawks, designs, unnatural color, or unnatural designs.”
The video has been viewed nearly 500,000 times and has been widely shared by activists and community members. Stanley Sr. said the reaction he's seen to the video has been "nothing but good."
Sue Book, a school administrator, told the Washington Post that she’s been flooded with constant calls and even death threats since the video was posted. Book said sheriff’s deputies had to come in on the second day of classes due to the threats.
“They’re calling me everything under the sun,” she told The Post. “I’m getting it from everywhere, all parts of the country. Most of them do not speak intelligently. I bear with them until they start using the four-letter words. Then I’ll lay the phone down and play Christian music.”
The Orange County Sheriff's Department confirmed the school has reported the threats and officers responded to the scene Tuesday, according to Public Information Officer Jane Watrel.
After learning about the incident, Orange County Commissioner Rod Love went to the school Tuesday to assess the situation. He said his primary concern was the safety of the children involved.
"Every time the phone rang you could feel how tense it was getting for the school and the staff," Love said. "One of the things that really hit me in the gut was that this child had to experience that."
Love said while the situation could've been handled better, he didn't believe the issue was about racism.
"The school may need to look into the policy," he said. "I do know the policy was instituted in 1971, but the school is a private school. They’re going to have to make their own decisions."
The school’s director, Rev. John Book, argued that because his school is a private school they have the right to set the dress code rules.
"You can see my school,” Book told NBC-2 WESH Tuesday. "It's probably 95% black. Obviously, I’m not a racist.
“In our school, our song is: Jesus loves the little children of the world, red and yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight,” he continued.
Stanley Sr. said he’s enrolled his son in a public school while he searches for another option. He's planning a community meeting Thursday to address the issue and hopefully work to change to other discriminatory policies.
He said his son is upset but isn’t letting the incident get him down.
“I feel real disappointed, real disgusted, real bad for the fact that he had to witness that,” Stanley Sr. said. “I’ve been holding up emotionally. I don’t know how long I can keep holding up.”
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