Vanessa Van Dyke: Orlando girl faces school expulsion over natural hair
9:19 PM, Nov 26, 2013
11:40 PM, Nov 26, 2013
ORLANDO, Fla. - An African-American girl says she may be expelled from her Florida private school if she doesn't change her natural hair.
The student says school officials issued the ultimatum after the family complained about teasing from other kids.
Like her love for violin, Vanessa Van Dyke's hair defines her personality.
"It just says that I'm unique," Vanessa said.
But for Vanessa, a private school student at Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, FL, it comes with a cost.
"First of all it's puffy and I like it that way," Vanessa said. "And I know people will tease me about it because it's not straight or anything. I don't fit in."
First came the teasing from other students. Now she says school leaders demand she cut and shape her natural hair or get kicked out of school.
"There have been bullies in the school," Sabrina Kent, Vanessa's mother, said. "There have been people teasing her about her hair and it seems to me that they're blaming her."
Faith Christian Academy has a dress code and rules against how students can wear their hair. The student handbook says hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.
"A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another," Kent said. "You can get a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?"
"I'm depressed about leaving my friends and people that I've known for a while," Vanessa said. " I would rather have that then the principals and administrators picking on me and saying that I should change my hair."
Vanessa said she was given one week to tame her mane. Orlando station WKMG says school administrators did not respond to requests for comment.
"I'm going to fight for my daughter," Kent said, in tears. "If she wants her hair like that, she will keep her hair like that."