Hyde Park High responds after hair scandal

The teacher allegedly described the pupil’s hair as distracting and attention-grabbing.

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.

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.

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