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Butler High School Dress Code Suspended Amid Controversy, Confusion

The controversial dress code policy banning certain hair styles at Butler Traditional High School is being temporarily suspended.

The suspension was approved Friday by the Butler School-Based Decision-Making Council during a special meeting.

William Allen, the principal at Butler, said he would seek community input on the policy in the coming weeks. And the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission plans to assist in facilitating those conversations, said Executive Director Carolyn Miller-Cooper.

"There needs to be some clarification," she said.

The policy led to outrage earlier this week, after Kentucky Rep.-elect Attica Scott, whose daughter attends Butler, posted a photo on Twitter of the policy that bans dreadlocks, cornrows, braids and twists in students' hair.

Scott called the policy racist because the hairstyles banned are natural styles worn by African-American students.

But on Friday, the outrage was coupled with confusion. While some parents and students who attended the meeting thought the policy applied to all students at the school, some Butler students said the policy applied only to male students. Jefferson County Public Schools officials confirmed that.

Kameko Cospy is an incoming senior at Butler. She said the controversy could have been avoided if residents would have first asked school officials about the policy.

"That rule has always been for males," she said.

Still, Miller-Cooper said dictating the length or style of male students' hair is inappropriate and infringes on certain religious beliefs, like Rastafarian students.

"It's clearly insensitive," she said.

JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens said district officials would conduct a review of all school policies approved by individual School-Based Decision-Making Councils.

"If we have any policy or practice that is not in line with embracing diversity as a strength, then we need to actually look at that and that is a great conversation to have," she said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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