Local teen told afro is 'extreme' and can't be worn at school

Published: May. 19, 2017 at 6:30 PM EDT
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By: Lanetra Bennett

May 19, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Seventeen-year-old Jenesis Johnson found herself in trouble at school because of her hair.

"She said that my hair needs to be fixed, it was not neat and needs to be put in a style. My hair is fixed," said Jenesis.

Jenesis is in the eleventh grade at North Florida Christian in Tallahassee. She has been wearing her hair in an afro on and off since the seventh grade, and wearing it daily for the past seven months.

She never had a problem until about two weeks ago. That's when she says one of her teachers confronted her in front of the class.

Jenesis says the teacher asked, "How long are you rocking that hairstyle?" Jenesis says students then began asking question about the maintenance of her hair.

Two days later Jenesis was called into the assistant principal's office.

"She said your hair is extreme and faddish and out of control. It's all over the place," Jenesis recalled.

NFC is a private school. Jenesis says she was told her hair was against school rules.

She said, "It hurts me. It's hurting me. For my people behind me, the younger ones, they're going to have hair like me. Why can't they wear their natural hair?"

Lisa Johnson, Jenesis' mother, said, "You might say that it didn't fit the handbook. But I saw, and what she heard is a woman telling her that she's not pretty; her hair does fit society."

Jenesis says she was told her big hair was a distraction in class. "In every class I sit in the back so it won't cause a distraction," she said.

Mrs. Johnson said, "I wanted to counteract what was told to her and let her know that, you are so beautiful. Your hair is also."

Page 42 of the North Florida Christian School's student handbook reads, "No faddish or extreme hairstyles, and hair should be neat and clean at all times. The administration will make the decision on any questionable styles."

Mrs. Johnson said she and Jenesis were told Jenesis could finish the last week of school this school year. However, if she didn't change her hair, the school would give them a refund for the next semester.

The assistant principal declined to comment on the matter.