Andrew Jones is the portrait of the perfect student.
He carried a 4.0 grade point average through high school and became valedictorian.
He excelled at sports and even has a football scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana University. And he kept up his high achievements even after becoming a teen father.
At his graduation on Wednesday, he was even named “Student of the Year.” But as he prepared for his shining moment one thing stopped him from marching across the stage:
School officials at Amite High School in Amite, La., about 60 miles from Baton Rouge, decided that he would not get to walk with his classmates, because they said he violated rules regarding facial hair on males.
Jones and other students were told they had to shave in order to walk. He did shave his cheeks, but decided to leave a goatee, prompting the school to bar him from the stage.
“They told us before graduation, but I’ve seen other schools, with them and they still graduated,” Jones told New Orleans station WVUE.
Tangipahoa School District Superintendent Mark Kolwe told the station that the school system has a policy that male students should be clean-shaven, and he said that Jones was turned away after he personally tried to get him to shave. But Jones said he has gone his entire high school career with facial hair and during his senior year, nobody had made an issue out of it.
“I feel they should have let me march,” Jones said. “The hair on my face has nothing to do with school. I wasn’t distracting anybody.”
Those who did shave were allowed to participate.
“They need to check themselves, poor administration,” Jones’ mother, Julie Ricard said.