Ellen DeGeneres and Alicia Keys had a special gift for DeAndre Arnold, the Mont Belvieu teen who was told he couldn’t walk at his high school graduation unless he cut his hair.
A scholarship for $20,000 courtesy of Shutterfly.
Arnold’s story has made national headlines after he refused to cut his dreadlocks, which is prohibiting him from going to school or walk at his graduation later this year due to non-compliance with the district’s newly modified dress code.
“I’ve worked for this all my life … I deserve this moment to walk across the stage and enter into life. My parents deserve this,” Arnold told the Ellen audience on Wednesday. “There are plenty of girls with long hair at my school. Like, if girls can have long hair why can’t I have long hair?”
DeGeneres told Arnold that she didn’t understand the dress code, or why he was being singled out even though girls in the school could wear their long hair. He hasn’t been to school and refuses to cut his hair. If he were to return to class, he told DeGeneres, he would have to do in-school suspension or go to an alternative school, a program for students with behavioral issues.
Barbers Hill ISD’s dress code policy states that male students cannot have long hair, specifically past their earlobes.
Ellen pleaded with the school district and Arnold’s school to let him walk on graduation day.
“I am begging you. This kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids, he’s a good guy. I’m just urging you to do the right thing. Please. Change your mind,” DeGeneres said.