Hyde Park High School claims there was no detention given to a grade 9 pupil who alleged that she was given detention because of her hairstyle.
Deliberations between Hyde Park High School officials and the Human Rights Commission, who visited the school on Tuesday, have resulted in the school clarifying that Zoe Chibuye didn’t sit detention.
Zoe, 13, was late for school on Friday and had to report to the school’s reception, where she was allegedly told that her hair violated the school’s hair policy.
According to Zoe, the teacher described her hair as distracting and attention-grabbing. She was then instructed to report for detention on Thursday.
[UPDATE] #HydeParkHighAfro Good News! @EducationGP officials have met with Zoe’s mom & the school today. She doesn’t have detention anymore (school now claims it wasn’t given) The teacher identified as the office assistant has been issue with a verbal warning. @eNCA https://t.co/sSWlvrzeH9
— silindelo masikane (@Slindelo_M) March 12, 2019
Department of Education officials went to the school on Tuesday to remedy the apparent hair scandal. Discussions with Zoe’s mother, Gloria Chibuye, the school, the department and the Human Rights Commission have clarified the issue.
Hyde Park High issued a statement saying Zoe was reported for coming late at the school last week, and she was advised by an administrative member of staff to pull her hair back a little bit or she could get detention.
“At no stage was the young lady given detention. There is no record of a detention in the register or in the diary that all children are given.
“It was clarified that the mother did not contact the school to query the alleged detention. We furthermore understand that the mother and the young lady did not initiate the contact with the media.
“The mother asked that it be made it very clear that her question regarding the race of the teacher was to ascertain whether the person had an understanding of black hair. In no way did the mother wish to allege racism at Hyde Park High School.”
“The Human Rights Commission visited Hyde Park High School shortly after the above mentioned meeting and they spoke to the mother.” They have concluded that there has been no violation and advised that they can be contacted for verification.”
Zoe read the school’s code of conduct, which stated: “Pupils’ hair must be neat and kept away from the face and tied up if it is long.” It also states that: “The style of the hair must not draw attention to itself,” a clear indication that she had not violated the school’s policy.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said pupils must only be detained after relevant people were notified about the transgression, “if there is a transgression.”
In 2016, there was a similar case at Pretoria Girls High School where pupils brought the school to a standstill claiming they were subjected to racism. The pupils claimed the school’s rules were against hairstyles such as afros, Bantu knots, dreadlocks and braids.
The students staged protests which resulted in an amicable solution being bartered between the school and parents.
Zoe has been going to school as normal. Her hair, however, seems to have sprouted a debate on social media.
— STOP ALBINISM KILLINGS (@kuliroberts) March 11, 2019
— Open News (@OpenNewsSA) March 11, 2019
— Modiehi Mokoena (@modiemokoena) March 11, 2019
#HydeParkHighAfro incident shows that throughout SA in these formerly whites only schools it doesn't take much for the racism, prejudice and bigotry to show its ugly head.
When will white minds stop wanting to regulate black bodies and black lifestyles?
— Wesley Fester (@wesleyfestersa) March 11, 2019
Are we really still doing this?? Discriminating against black girls hair is racist and should be illegal. Imagine being told that the hair that grows naturally out of your scalp as God intended is distracting #hydeparkhighafro https://t.co/8DuLiFx6V4
— Khanyi (@khanyisile_kr) March 11, 2019
#HydeParkHighAfro #HydePark didn't Girls High win this battle for us? Why must we be defending the way and texture in which our hair grows out of our scalps? Where can we be black and not be bullied? What's not destructive about this teacher's behaviour Mzantsi…la tena lona!
— Tebogo Kekana (@LadyTebs) March 11, 2019
I used to love having thin braids (own hair) in high school. Mrs De Beer, who was the principal then said I looked like a rascal and I wouldn’t be allowed to represent the school anymore in Sports. The next day I went to school with pegs at the end of each braid #HydeParkHighAfro
— Daddy's girl (@ChildofArsguard) March 11, 2019
#HydeParkHighAfro ???? my daughter was told by her teacher that her hairstyle is too high, she must lower it. I told her that afro is not a hairstyle; this is how our hair grows; it grows up not down. They dont mind taking our money but they don't include us when making policies.
— Unathi Fana (@UnathiF) March 11, 2019