Update: According to a report by WWL-TV the family of a Christ the King Elementary School student, who was sent home for violating its hair policy, says Superintendent RaeNell Houston was "not accurate" in her statement saying the family cancelled their meeting with school officials Monday.
The statement, released to WWL-TV Monday night, took issue with many of the assertions in the Archdiocese's statement and said the meeting had actually been postponed to 2 p.m. Tuesday to accommodate everyone who needs to attend.
Original Story: The family of a young black girl sent home from a Terrytown Catholic school last week for violating a policy against hair extensions canceled a meeting with school and archdiocesan system officials scheduled for Monday.
The family of sixth-grader Faith Fennidy held a press conference Friday in which attorney James Williams said they looked forward to meeting with officials from Christ the King Elementary School and the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Office of Schools, but system officials said late Monday that the family first postponed and ultimately canceled the meeting.
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“I personally called the Fennidy parents last Monday, and again on Tuesday, to request a meeting with them,” Superintendent RaeNell Houston said in a written statement.
“Since then, we have continued to request a meeting and remain open to such. The girls were welcome to return to school last week, and it saddens me that the parents have chosen not to bring them, or to meet with us to discuss the situation.”
A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said both families were invited to the meeting. "The invitation was extended several times," she said.
Faith Fennidy was one of two girls sent home from the school last week for violating the new policy against hair extensions.
The mothers of both girls filed a lawsuit in Orleans Parish Civil District Court to rescind the ban, saying it is discriminatory, and a judge on Thursday granted that request temporarily.
Houston said the school notified the families on Thursday that it had rescinded the policy against hair extensions and told them the girls were welcome to come back to school.
“When this issue arose, the school immediately reviewed its policy and recognized that there may have been sensitivities that needed to be addressed,” Houston said. “They then reached out for input from the Office of Catholic Schools, the Office of Black Catholic Ministries, other principals and parents.”
It was not clear Monday what the meeting’s cancellation means for Faith Fennidy’s supposed wish to get back into the school — a desire that seemed to be undercut by the school’s contention that the family was told she could have come back to school as early as Thursday, the day before the press conference.
According to social media accounts, the family was flown to New York City over the weekend by Proctor & Gamble, the creators of the “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign. It was part of a general outpouring of support Faith Fennidy got when a video of her leaving the school in tears was shared widely on social media.
She attended the Black Girls Rock gala, where she met celebrity stylist Tai Beauchamp, who took her shopping and walked the red carpet with her.
Williams, the family’s attorney, could not be reached for comment late Monday.
Reactions to the story also have come from those who feel the school should be able to enforce the policies it deems appropriate, and that learning to live by the rules is part of growing up.
Hand-drawn signs were posted Sunday night outside the school in support of the decision to send Faith Fennidy home, saying “Rules are rules” and "We pay a lot of money to support our Catholic school."
School staff removed the signs Monday morning.
Houston said Christ the King values its diversity and considers it a gift.
“As we move forward, I will work with Christ the King School and all of our archdiocesan schools to create a uniform policy that is sensitive to all races, religions and cultures,” she said.