Mom says Peoria's Paramount Academy discriminated against son over his afro

Posted at 6:08 PM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-06 01:32:48-04

A Valley mother says a local charter school discriminated and retaliated against her kids all because of a dress code dispute.

Tanisha Reid, who's two sons attended Peoria's Paramount Academy, is angry over what she describes as a nearly year-long nightmare.

"I would like the recognition that this is what this charter school did to my children," Reid said.

Reid told ABC15 it all started in April, 2017, when her son Cornelius, 9, told her the teacher had an issue with his afro.

"Cornelius came in the car and told me his teacher told him he...couldn't come to school with his head looking like that," Reid said.

Reid says that sparked a dispute over the dress code with school administrators.

"Basically, he couldn't wear his afro to school," Reid said. "It was more than three inches high...If I didn't cut it, he would be suspended."

Reid filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, part of the U.S. Department of Education. That office issued a resolution in December, noting in their findings the "School discriminated as alleged."

According to related documents, the Office for Civil Rights notes the school either 'could not or would not' provide a defense for the harassment allegation, and thus proceeded with only information provided by the mother.

The Office for Civil Rights notes the school "voluntarily agreed to enter into a resolution." The resolution stipulated the school would provide an apology letter, modify the dress code and begin collecting data to track dress code violations.

As part of the complaint, the Office for Civil Rights noted "We reasonably concluded that the Student was the only student, in at least the last two school years, who was disciplined for having natural hair bigger than three inches."

"I just thought, ok, you have the findings, you're supposed to do what the OCR tells you to do and that would be it," Reid said. "Nope. They kept doing things to my children after the findings."

That resolution came in December. In January, the Office for Civil Rights resolved another complaint filed by Tanisha against Paramount Academy involving an alleged incident between her kids and other students.

In February, Tanisha says she received a letter from Paramount Academy threatening to "terminate the enrollment" of her children, citing 8 handbook violations, such as missed days at school and the lack of participation in parent-teacher conferences.

Reid disputes the violations.

"I believe they were just tired of looking at my kids," Reid said. "They were upset about the (OCR) findings and didn't want to be bothered with them anymore."

Reid told ABC15 she withdrew her children and enrolled them at another school. She plans to share her story at the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools meeting this upcoming Monday.

"I'm not trying to gain anything, I think the public should know if you decide to put your children in this school, they might be open to these types of things," Reid said.

ABC15 reached out multiple times, to multiple administrators, on Thursday seeking comment. Thus far, no one from Paramount Academy has responded.

You can read the full investigation HERE

You can read the full resolution HERE.