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DPS Response to April 19 Hillside-Jordan Softball Incident

Jordan Hillside

STATEMENT UPDATED | May 12, 2021 | 4:10 pm

As reflected in our school board’s unanimous resolution in support of the CROWN Act, Durham Public Schools supports our students’ right to free expression and opposes unreasonable or biased restrictions on Black women’s hairstyles.

On April 19 during a softball game against Jordan High, a Hillside High student-athlete was forced by a game official to choose to remove beads from her hair in accordance with National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules or not continue to participate in the contest. NFHS rules govern athletic competition; DPS board policies do not prohibit beads in hair.

In its investigation of the incident, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has since found that the incident began when the base umpire noticed the hair beads when the runner got to third base. There was no involvement by any Jordan High staff member bringing the violation to the game officials’ attention.

DPS supports our student-athletes and their right to self-expression in a manner befitting their culture, consistent with safety in training and competition. We believe the blanket ban on hair beads is culturally biased and problematic. We support our student, Nicole Pyles, and believe this rule should be amended. We frown on any rule or policy that promotes cultural insensitivity or does not reflect the ideals and principles of DPS and our employees.

Moving forward, DPS will be diligently working to encourage the NCHSAA and NFHS to review their policies that on the surface seem fair but are culturally biased and inappropriate. The aim is to make sure that all our athletes regardless of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation have the opportunity to compete without rules that target them based on any of these factors.