Racially Insensitive Hairstyle Ban at Narvie Harris Elementary

The country calls DeKalb Schools racially insensitive for banning hairstyles at Narvie Harris Elementary.

Hairstyle Ban

Where is the Social Justice? – How can we expect Social Justice if we can’t be socially just to ourselves? Social justice is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity, and social privileges.

I am fascinated that the administration would say these hairstyles are not acceptable. I also find it interesting the country calls this racial profiling and racially insensitive. Perhaps somebody can help me understand. I suspect this touches on larger racial issues in our culture.

Narvie J. Harris Theme ES
The Narvie Harris theme school concept was built to relieve overcrowding in surrounding schools, to offer parents a choice of educational programs, and to provide a diversity of educational opportunities. All the elementary schools in the area are roughly at 90% capacity, almost 100% black, and are all academically failing.

Facebook Post
This is the Facebook post that went viral. When this article was written, the following Facebook post had 2,200+ comments and 4,100+ shares.

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43 responses to “Racially Insensitive Hairstyle Ban at Narvie Harris Elementary

  1. Betterschools

    In my opinion, DeKalb schools need to worry less about hair styles and dress code. The focus needs to be on education first. This is another example of the unqualified DeKalb administration fixating on the wrong priorities.

  2. DSW2Contributor

    ^Betterschools, This is actually a perfect illustration of how DCSD richly rewards Administrators who focus on style instead of academics.

    From the AJC:
    “…. she said then-principal Sean Tartt (now a regional superintendent) invited a friend to the school who would “fix” inappropriate hairstyles, which likely included cutting designs out of the hair and cutting Mohawks low.” (https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/dekalb-school-hairstyle-rules-stifle-black-expression/UZGLPvcTx7dlZYHhIHhl5I/)
    Tartt is now the Regional Superintendent for Region III, so he was likely given one of the board approved salary increases that Stan told us about last month:

    Tartt was probably also given one of the $10,000 “educational bonuses” for Cabinet Members who have Doctorate degrees.

    According to his biography (https://www.dekalbschoolsga.org/superintendent/cabinet/#), Tartt has a “Doctorate in 2008 in Educational Leadership from Argosy University in Atlanta”. That school permanently closed in March 2019: https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/argosy-university-students-still-await-school-fate/htfQGkh15yf6sd6VTJ4VpK/

  3. I personally don’t see this as racist. I see it as a deterrent of creating havoc in a school environment. If this is a rule it should be followed, not only that, it teaches students how to follow guidelines when requested. School is for learning and not for showcasing haircuts and the latest fashions. Most often, students report to school with the over the top cuts and clothes, but their academics are suffering.

    I’m a big fan of academics and I support the rule and the administration who put this in place. At least, their working towards positive goals/outlook. We have so many DeKalb County school administrators and teachers who just collect a paycheck and does not work towards any school improvements.

    We should have more accountability oversight in place ( A Report Card) for them as well. Compare South DeKalb vs North schools and it’s a big difference in academic excelling , resources, and leadership. Why is there not a more diverse administration in in the South DeKalb schools? Why do Gwinnett County continues to enhance their systems and we don’t?

    Honestly, I would like to see a more diverse leadership at the top. Even, if the state would takeover for holding every accountable. Black lives matter, so why not in the classroom. I would for the administration to open a high school, because I would definitely enroll my kids.
    By the way, Ron Clark Academy has the same rule and nobody has said a word, he continues to millions in donations.

  4. My guess is that when the school opened as a theme school, one of the parent agreement items was uniforms. Uniforms includes hair (length, style, unnatural colors) as well as clothing and jewelry that is acceptable. The school is a “choice” school, and those who disagree are welcome to return to their home schools.
    That said, uniforms should reflect the community’s values and the school’s mission. Hairstyle may be an area that needs a rule change!

  5. Doesn’t this contradict Social Justice? If a white person made these rules, I suspect Social Justice warriors would be up in arms.

  6. Do any of these reports mention that these racially insensitive rules against black children were put in place by a school district and school with nearly 100% black leadership? Or are they just going to fan the flame and let the rest of the country believe that white people are responsible? Uh huh. Thought so.

  7. Where the fuck is the white kids hairstyles if its not racists stupid ass. Fuck that school and its methods. Black girls wear ponytails and braids dumbass. Whites dont do shit to their hair. I know, im a stylist and style whote hair. Fuck that school. Time to protest.

  8. The student body is right at 100% black. The school leadership is 100% black. The principal is black. The assistant principals are black. Most or all of the teachers are black. Their school board rep is black. The superintendent is black. His top tier leadership is almost all black. The parents (who agree to a ‘contract’ with this specialty ‘theme’ school) are all black. The district as a whole is a majority black (it’s only 10% white!). The people who made this rule and put up these posters are black! Can anyone tell me how this is ‘racist’?

  9. It’s amazing how much of our media is designed to be clickbait. These are all very mainstream publications. There’s technically not anything false in the stories (didn’t bother with NY Times firewall), but it’s just misleading as most will assume there is someone white involved. This is very similar to the story about the cops being called on the black child mowing lawns.

    Legitimate debate to be having, but some context would be very helpful in understanding what the actual debate is about. This is much more about black parents not wanting to explain to their kids why they can’t put designs in their hair when other parents allow it. Maybe there is some type of implicit bias against black boys by black administrators, but I really don’t think that is the case. It’s simple a difference of opinion within the black community about what’s appropriate for kindergartners to look like.

    IMO, DCSD has a good dress policy (no statement on hair) and I support the theme school administrators having their own standards. School choice is for choice.

  10. I do not think that the dress code is racially insensitive. I just don’t think that it makes sense. As a society, we seem to have a problem just disagreeing. We seem to need to bring race into our discussions. I think that this is sadly a sign of our current times. I also think that issues that once would have not been news becomes news because of social media.
    These students are in elementary school. I think that this school is spending too much time focusing on something that is just not that important. I think that the school could have handled this in a better way. If there were certain dress code violations like dresses too short or pants hanging down too low, or students wearing flip-flops then those should be addressed. If someone had cut gang signs or profanity in their hair, then that would be something that the school needed to address.
    But while we are talking to students about dress, I hope that we are following standards for our staff. I worked in Region I. I have seen teachers wear flip-flops to school. Men sitting in meetings with their hats on their head. And both men and women staff members wearing sweat suits. Yes, I mean sweat pants and a sweat shirt top. NO, these are not PE teachers. Our principal says nothing about the way people come to work. Maybe because sometimes he is walking around with his shirt out and wearing tennis shoes with his suit.

    As far as life, styles change. Men wearing long hair was considered inappropriate, regardless of how neatly they wore their long hair. Even in the south ladies were expected to wear hose to work. Forgot the fact that it may have been 100 degrees. Ladies did not wear pants to church. Men always wore suits to church and kept their suit jackets on, again no matter how hot it was. Male teachers had to wear ties. Regardless of how neat and professional the style of braids were ladies were not supposed to wear braids in the corporate world or military.
    I agree with the comments of Better Schools. We have major issues that need our attention. At noon on WSB, the first story was the problems with the DCSS online Registration Process. Parents that had registered their children during the summer, found out that the home schools had no record of their child. Some of the best paying companies in the United States. have some of the most relaxed dress codes. But these companies also have some of the best benefits, highest salaries and many very bright young people working for them.
    Our children have returned to school after another horrible week-end of unspeakable violence. May be we should be teaching our children to respect and value all people, even those that have different views. Also, forget the hair style and spend time on teaching our students how to be safe in a very dangerous world.
    Pray that the Lord will protect our children and school.

  11. Interesting points, Joy. However, this story is an attempt to race-bait. Plain and simple. White people did not do this to black children. Black adults (educators and parents) made these rules for these children, printed out those photos, put sticky notes on them and pasted them on the wall. No white person was involved.

  12. Still Waiting

    I see right through this post and how it really has absolutely nothing to do with the issue , but meant to trivialize other issues and it’s to victimize oppressors. This isn’t meant to create meaningful dialogue. Don’t fall for the bait.

  13. @StillWaiting, Actually … it’s just the opposite. I’m trivializing this hair issue. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, so I’m asking people to help me understand why this has gone viral. Furthermore, it’s an attempt to take this trivial issue and discuss something more substantial.

  14. Stan
    You can’t discuss things more substantial in a blog. It just doesn’t work that way.

  15. @Educator, The written word has been an effective form of communication for thousands of years.

  16. @Educator: Please identify places within the DCSD organization where people can come together for discussions about topics impacting our children’s education: curriculum, funding, construction, redistricting, Title 1, graduation rates, test scores, effectiveness of block vs 6-7 period day, dress code, calendar, etc. As best I can tell, there are no venues for real dialogue. There are a few “task forces” set up like the calendar committee but they aren’t open meetings and you can’t find out what committees are being put together when in order to participate, much less who is on them to give your input to. I frequently see folks thanking Stan for allowing them to express their thoughts, questions, concerns because they have no other avenue. Share your ways to have substantial conversations with DCSD admin/BOE..

  17. Lose the Magnet

    Dekalb County – when your school system sucks and all people want to do is discuss whether a hair style rule issued by black administrators to black students is racist. #priorities

  18. Amen! @lose the magnet

  19. concerned citizen

    Stan is the man! No one else has ever taken on his leadership role. We have to have a superintendent who is not brain dead. Please, Board, show Green the door and let’s clean house from the top down.

  20. DeKalb Schools Settles Freedom of Speech Law


    Hopefully the school system will learn from this.

  21. This hair issue is taking away from the real problems. First of all the only thing theme about these schools are the uniforms. This is a complete joke and there is no policy on it.

  22. DSW2Contributor

    ^^ Bratten remains on the DCSD payroll, in a do nothing Palace job.

  23. https://www.law.com/dailyreportonline/2019/08/01/dekalb-school-district-settles-free-speech-lawsuit-with-suspended-student/
    ( Not sure if the first link worked but I copied some of key points of the ruling.”)
    A Chamblee high school student’s suspension for displaying a sticker calling for the firing of the school principal will be expunged from his record in a settlement of his free speech lawsuit against the DeKalb County School District.

    The school district also agreed to reimburse the Chamblee Charter High School student and his father, who sued the school district on his son’s behalf, $45,500 to cover legal fees, expenses and award $500 in damages, according to court records attorney, Gerald Weber.

    As part of the July 23 agreement, a student conduct rule used as the basis of the suspension will be amended, and the district’s principals will undergo additional training.

    In addition to expunging the one-day suspension, the student will be allowed to affirmatively state that he was not suspended last year, according to the agreement.

    “We were so pleased that our client was vindicated, that his records were cleared, and that the district agreed to policy changes and training that will help protect students’ rights to speak their minds,” Weber said. “Kids learn more when schools are places that welcome speech.”

    Weber’s co-counsel is Atlanta attorney Craig Goodmark.

    Weber said the school district entered into settlement negotiations after U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen ruled in April that the then a freshman, appeared to have been unconstitutionally punished by school administrators because of a viewpoint he expressed

  24. Thank you for the update Joy.

  25. Thanks, Joy. So who are the winners and losers here?

    Clearly the student won, and was even awarded damages.

    Clearly the District lost, having to pay legal fees, damages, and having mandated actions.

    Clearly taxpayers lost, as more of our hard earned money is diverted from the true mission of most school districts.

    But there are two other winners. As I remember, the lawsuit named two DCSD employees as well as the District, Rebecca Braaten, then CCHS Principal, and Clifton Spears, then CCHS Assistant Principal.

    But Dr. Green has promoted both of them!

    Ms. Braaten now works a cushy job at the Palace, perhaps now with even more authority over teachers and students.

    Mr. Spears is now Principal at Cedar Grove High School. Dr. Green chose to replace the much beloved former principal with Mr. Spears.

    How is this right?

    This, my friends, is Dr. Green’s real legacy. How sad for all of us.

  26. Funny. I would bet money that Braaten has said much worse about President Trump. I’ll even bet she has called for impeachment along with so many other liberal educators. Surely she can dish it out. Too bad she can’t take it. Same comment for Greene and his staff.

  27. Hello,

    DeKalb Settlement with Chamblee Student

    The entire article is on the AJC.Com today


  28. Thanks Joy. What are your thoughts about this?

  29. More Central Office Bloat

    In the midst of this public relations fiasco, 3 new Department of Communication jobs listed for hire at the District Offices. Director of Communications, Video Production Coordinator, Communications Specialist II.

  30. @ More Central Office Bloat: What??? This is just crazy.

  31. Maybe Stan can answer this one,
    From the last board meeting, it was understood that a hiring freeze is in place except for schoolhouse positions. Please clarify if a hiring freeze is in place and what positions are priority.

  32. DSW2Contributor

    Jane, the current job openings are on PATS, https://pats.dekalbschoolsga.org/
    Click on “View Job Posting”

  33. Hi Stan
    Forgive me for taking so long to answer your question. You wanted to know what I thought of the freedom of speech issue at Chamblee, which was resolved in favor of the student. I cannot understand why the school system allowed this situation to go so far. According to the article, it seems the parents made a request before they filed the lawsuit. I think that the school system should have granted the request of the parents.
    Also, I think when there appears that the rules are not applied in the same way, then it is hard for people to trust the leadership of our school system.
    I have copied two quotes that were made during the student protest at Dunwoody. I have listed the references for these quotes. I don’t understand why the same kind of understanding was not given to the young man at Chamblee. In no way am I saying anything negative about the Dunwoody students. I respect that fact that they did what they felt was right to express their point of view. But isn’t this the same thing that the young man did at Chamblee?

    DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green issued this statement about the protest:
    “The DeKalb County School District will always support students’ rights to free speech and peaceful expression. Our role as both educators and responsible citizens is to listen to the concern driving the expression, and use that information to support our children’s intellectual and social growth.


    Students at Dunwoody High School are requesting more from us academically and in their school climate,” he said. “Our role as both educators and responsible citizens is to listen to the concern driving the expression, and use that information to support our children’s intellectual and social growth.”

  34. Joy. I agree. I’ve been concerned for quite some time about the equal protection of the First Amendment across the district. The judge referred to our school system as a “totalitarian government” in that regard. Disruptive behavior the school district agrees with is considered the expression of free speech. Speech that the school district disagrees with is considered a disruption.

  35. Amen, Stan. The amount of freedom of speech allowed to students appears to depend on whether the DCSD person in charge agrees with the student’s statement.

    Plus, I would argue that a few students wearing a sticker at school is a whole lot less disruptive than the sidewalk protests/demonstrations filmed at dunwoody high school or the entire school walkouts, both of which were sanctioned.

    This event has become a teachable moment about freedom of speech. I just wish that it could have been handled thoughtfully ‘in the moment’ rather than resulting a lawsuit that awarded $45,000 to the student’s family. Who knows how much DCSD paid its own lawyers to argue this unsuccessful case.

  36. concerned citizen

    Tartt is also the son of a high-profile top-level DeKalb administrator. We just can’t get away from Family/Friends. This is just another example.

  37. DSW2Contributor

    “Hair dust-up shines light on DeKalb’s ‘traditional theme schools’”, a new AJC article about our socioeconomically segregated schools: https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/hair-dust-shines-light-dekalb-traditional-theme-schools/cPlbLiztcYkJHVdnELWafP/

  38. DSW2Contributor

    Stan, my view is that the Narvie Harris haircuts, the CCHS suspension for wearing a sticker, and Peachtree Charter MS making your son turn his shirt inside-out are all symptoms of the same disease: DCSD is run by Administrators who worry about keeping up appearances, not academic achievement.

  39. DSW2Contributor, Those are some interesting thoughts. I’m concerned about the same trend. One of my annual pet peeves is the school district paying for AP exams. The school district brags about all the students they have in AP classes and taking AP exams. However, it’s a complete waste of money when only 5% of the students in some of these schools pass the exam.

  40. Stan, I’m sure you realize that many folks argue that just taking an AP course is good for a student.

    Back in May 2017 the BOE approved $270,000 to participate in the Lead Higher Initiative with Equal Opportunity Schools. This group’s website states:

    Increasing the number of low-income students and students of color who enroll in rigorous classes leads to more of those students graduating and attending college. This is one of most resource-effective strategies for tackling the classroom equity gap.

    Dr. Green supports this, wanting lots of students to be enrolled in AP classes whether or not they have a strong background and whether or not they are committed to the 2-3 hours of reading/homework required each night.

    I’m sure College Board, who administers AP exams and collects about $90 per exam, also favors this approach!

    I couldn’t find current AP ‘pass rates’ by DCSD school, but I think you’ve posted these before and some schools have a pass rate of under 10%. It’s hard to see that as a sign of success.

    The two DCSD administrators who proposed this expensive expansion of AP courses, Lisa Martin and Knox Phillips, are gone from DCSD. I haven’t heard mention of this program in months.

    Stan, how’s about you ask for an update on this initiative?

  41. DSW2Contributor

    I’m bothered by the 5% passing rate, but I don’t think that is a reason to stop offering AP classes since:

    (1) The $270,000 for Lead Higher Initiative is only about 0.025% of DCSD’s $1.08 Billion budget, or 25 cents of every $1,000 DCSD spends (assuming I did the math correctly.)

    (2) That $270,000 actually goes towards students, not the Palace and F&F.

    (3) AP classes are a performance measure — a HS with a 5% passing rate is not doing as well as a HS that has 75% passing rate.

  42. DSW2Contributor

    P.S. If you really want to save money, turn off the Palace’s air conditioning each and every day there is a classroom in DCSD without working air conditioning.

  43. Are administrators still being trained in discipline? “Former AP” may remember this, but all AP’s and Principals were required to attend training on school finance, school discipline and school law each year. These were sessions that were held during the summer leadership conferences. All administrators had to attend. Our former principal use to come back to school and share with us the information from these sessions as well as other principal meetings. This year when discipline training was held our principal didn’t go and our AP did not attend. In my opinion both of them should have been there. Understanding discipline is a critical area in all schools.

    I really think that certain training should be required and the principal should be responsible for knowing it and sharing it with the school. Perhaps that could help us not make the kinds of errors that are being made in issues like freedom of speech and school finances. It does not seem like anyone is held accountable for errors in finances or discipline.

    Not sure where to post this but this was on the news today and in the AJC.Com

    Teacher under investigation