Harvey, LA (WGNO) – It started with a violation of the dress code– and ended with Jefferson Parish deputies breaking up fights as students poured out of classes at Helen Cox High School.
Ted Beasley, Director of Communications for Jefferson Parish Schools, tells WGNO that one of the school’s staff asked an unidentified female Muslim student to take off her hoodie. Beasely says hoodies are not allowed under the school’s uniform policy because they’re considered a threat to school safety. He says a hoodie (basically a sweat shirt with a hood that can be pulled tightly around a student’s face) could “conceal a student’s identity” and hamper the staff’s ability to keep non-students out of the building.
But the student refused to remove her hoodie, Beasley says, because “she didn’t want to expose her (bare) arms.”
In conservative Muslim culture, Muslim women keep their arms covered, and Beasley says that, apparently, the student was not wearing a long-sleeve shirt to cover her arms under the hoodie.
Beasley says a “small group” of students began to “defend” the student and as word of the protest spread, other students, acting on “rumors,” pulled the fire alarm.
Fights broke out among groups of students, and when deputies arrived, a 16 year- old male student was arrested for battery on a police officer, resisting an officer, and interfering with an educational facility.
Brandon Van Vleck, the school’s principal, released a statement for parents, saying that “student safety is paramount.. (and) we called in additional law enforcement support to ensure the safety of our students.”
Van Vleck also reminded parents that “hoodies are not to be worn at school and will be confiscated.”