Du-Rag Controversy Resolved

Administration Stops Enforcing Du-Rag Prohibition Following Student Advocacy

Karolena Rubio, Editor

      A school dress code policy that prohibits students from wearing du-rags or headscarves on campus is no longer being enforced, says Principal Stan Mojsich.

      “Some kids came and spoke to me, and did it in a really respectful way,” Mojsich said.

      The principal also reports that his staff on campus no longer brings students in for du-rags, unless it breaks another part of the school dress code.

      Concern over the policy began to grow and raise controversy when senior A’Donnis Cobb had been stopped by vice principals multiple times this year and told to remove his du-rag.

      Cobb owns several, different-colored du-rags that he matches with his everyday outfits.

      “Mrs. Rodriguez was on my case every single day,” Cobb said. “I was wondering, ‘where did this come from?’”

      According to the Student Handbook, “The school administration may limit or prohibit specific clothing that has been determined by law enforcement to be affiliated with an actual gang.”

      The handbook lists various different examples on appropriate dress code in a school atmosphere, such as “headbands or hair accessories.”

      But opponents argued that students who wear du-rags and headscarves are expressing themselves, not their gang affiliation.

      Kamari Anderson, president of River City’s Black Student Union (BSU), said, “A du-rag or headscarf is meant to keep your hair in place, intact and to protect your hair. I can’t wake up, shower and do my hair to go about my day. I either figure out what hairstyle I am going to do, or put product in it, then that is what my du-rag is for.”

      Math teacher Morgan Burton is the faculty adviser for the BSU.

      “It took us a step back. I would never think that [du-rags] would be against the dress code, because that’s a specifically African American cultural piece of wear,” Burton said. “Both my father and brother wear a du-rag and they are not gang-related.”

      Burton and the Black Student Union hosted two meetings–the first with counselor Freda Clark and the second with Mojsich–after the school began to get backlash from the students about the policy. Members of the BSU and other students who felt strongly on the matter attended the meetings.

      “[They] explained to me why we should allow du-rags and why we shouldn’t worry about them, and I took their side,” Mojsich recalled. “We do not have a du-rag policy where we don’t allow it, unless they wear something inappropriate on their du-rag, or if it could be all red.”

      As of today, the Black Student Union and other students did indeed have the policy almost repealed from our campus, and no longer enforced. But whether or not students on campus are aware of this change is a different issue.

      Burton and the concerned students were happy with the decision, but wished that it would have been made more public.

      “I love Mr. Mosjich, he is one of the best administrators that I have encountered, and we were trying to push him to make an announcement,” Burton said.

      Many students were aware of the controversy, but not about the resolution. Burton, another teacher, and the BSU, have concerns the problem was never fully resolved because students were still under the impression it is a rule.

      “Communication on campus across all boards is very weak. Sending out information to the students I feel is a very big lack. I feel like the reason why the problem became bigger [in the first place] was because they were not aware that was a rule.” says Burton.

      Anderson added that she is unsure if all office aids or vice principals are aware that the du-rag policy is no longer enforced.

      River City High School’s Dress Code policy existed long before Mojsich became principal. There has always been a strict dress code on campus for accessories or clothing worn by students.

      The Student Handbook, which contains rules and regulations for various matters, is shared throughout each school in the Washington Unified School District and is approved by the School Board.

      “The only thing I encourage students to look at is whether or not they are doing something that they are supposed to be doing,” said Mojsich. “To me, it isn’t about race, it’s about doing what you are supposed to be doing.”

      From the students’ perspective, the policy on outlawing du-rags or headscarves had caused some on campus to feel victimized, mainly because of the cultural associations du-rags and headscarves have.

      “I believe they (administration) are uneducated about the black community,” Anderson noted. “We have a very diverse campus, so I think the administration should be open to learn about everyone’s culture and background”.