Last week, DeAndre Arnold made headlines after being suspended and unable to walk at his high school graduation for having dreadlocks. And now, he’s being gifted a $20K scholarship from Ellen Degeneres and Alicia Keys to help him on his educational journey.
The gift comes after his mother, Sandy, withdrew him from the school after the Barbers Hill ISD school district said he must cut his hair in order to return to school.
The district said it has no plans to change its length policy which has been in effect for decades. “Our policy limits the length,” said Superintendent Greg Poole. “It’s been that way for 30 years.”
However, DeAndre has had lengthy locs for most of his high school experience, which he kept tied up in a high bun to comply with school dress policies to keep his hair off his shoulders, above his earlobes and out of his eyes. “Every day, I would do go to school, if they are up, then I am in dress code,” he told Ellen in an appearance on Wednesday. “If I am wearing my hair down then I am out of dress code.”
That was until the school made new policy changes in the middle of the school year.
Now, just months before graduation, the mostly A & B student said if he goes back, “my only options are in-school suspension or alternative school” for students with behavioral issues. He just wants to be able to walk and make his parents proud.
“They’ve worked for this all of my life,” he said. “I deserve this moment. My parents deserve this, they deserve to see me walk across the stage.”
Ellen urged officials to “do the right thing,” and let DeAndre back in school. Then she and Alicia Keys gifted him a $20K scholarship for college.
“I’m super proud of you for standing up for what you know is right,” said Alicia.