Black Girl Threatened With Expulsion Over Hair Goes Back to School

After allegedly being told that she would have to leave her school unless she cut her hair, 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke has returned to classes Monday at Faith Christian Academy without making any changes to her self-described "puffy" hair.

The controversy at Faith Christian began last week when VanDyke and her family told the school that she was being bullied for her hair. School administrators apparently responded by telling the family that since her hair didn't fit with their dress code anyway, she could take a week to decide whether she wanted to change it or leave the school. After news of the school's decision broke, EBONY declared November 27 Happy Afro Day!, encouraging readers to post photos of their own hairdos and R&B singer Elle Varner wrote her a poem.

But FCA denies that they'd ever threatened VanDyke with suspension and expulsion, explained school board member Carl Jackson during church services on Sunday at the school:

We want to make it emphatically clear: these words were never mentioned, discussed as a potential consequence for this student within the school administration or with the parents. no one in the administration asked or demanded that the hair be cut, straightened, or tamed as I've read in some of the media outlets.

Jackson added that he and the three other minorities on the school board would have objected to any decision on FCA's part to expel VanDyke over her hair, and implied that the media attention brought to the issue was blown out of proportion and unwanted.

"Our hope for this student and all of our students quite frankly is that we will be able to put this behind them and continue to excel in the Christian eduction," he said. In an interview after that sermon with Local 6 he added, "We love Vanessa. We want her back and we are not asking for any alterations and we want her back."

VanDyke told Local 6 that she's happy to go back to school and she likes her hair the way that it is. She's also hoping to avoid continued bullying from other students, though her parents say if the teasing continues without interference from school officials, they'll consider what steps to take next.

Image via Local 6