Christ the King

Screenshot via video

Hours after the mothers of two young black girls filed a lawsuit against Christ the King Parish School, a state judge issued a temporary restraining order that will allow their daughters to attend the school with hair extensions.

The lawsuit filed by Montrelle Fennidy and Toyonita Parquet targets the Terrytown school, its principal Dawn Swear Castillo and the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

It is the latest chapter of a controversy that has drawn national social media outrage. 

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The suit, filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court, claims that the policy has a “disparate impact” on black girls and that “only the African American girls who attend Christ the King have been investigated, reprimanded and subsequently punished for wearing extensions.”

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Piper Griffin issued the temporary restraining order, which will remain in effect until Sept. 6. The girls' mothers have also asked for a permanent injunction against the school.

The archdiocese says it is trying to work with the families of the girls so that they can return.

Controversy has been brewing around the school hairstyle policy since Tuesday, when a video of Faith Fennidy, leaving the school in tears, went viral on social media.

The sixth-grader was removed from class on Monday after she was accused of violating the hair policy, the lawsuit says. The school tossed her even though she had her hair shortened so that it did not extend beyond her shoulders as part of a compromise with Castillo, according to the suit.

Meanwhile, the suit says that Parquet’s daughter, Tyrielle, who suffers from medically diagnosed hair loss, was also banned from returning to school due to her extensions.

The suit says the girls were subjected to reprimands and questions from educators about whether their hair was “real.”

Castillo told Montrelle Fennidy that her daughter’s braids were distracting because girls “twirl” and “flip” their extensions, the suit says.

When Fennidy replied that girls with all sorts of long hair flip their hair, Castillo told her: “It’s just something we want. We don’t want them wearing fake hair.”

Groups including the Anti-Defamation League and the Urban League of Louisiana — as well as the rapper T.I. — have assailed the school’s policy.

Archdiocese of New Orleans Schools Superintendent RaeNell Houston defended the school's actions earlier this week. In a statement Thursday, she said officials were trying to reach out to the families and attorneys with a goal of returning the girls to school.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432