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Teacher Nixes Ban on 'Large Afros' at Concert After Uproar

Monday Dec 10, 2018

A middle-school music teacher apologized Monday and backed off his instructions that students should not have "Mohawks, Large Afros, or any other outlandish" hairstyles at an upcoming chorus concert.

Vocal music teacher Steven Reeves' letter to students touched off a social media firestorm, with comments saying it was targeting black students. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Reeves himself is black.

In a new letter Monday, Reeves said his original "wording and expectations were insensitive and were a mistake." He said he hopes to mend relationships with students, parents and the school community, and he invited people to meet with him if they wanted to further discuss their concerns.

His "revised guidelines" don't mention hair, just that the students should wear white tops and black pants or skirts.

"Students are encouraged to look their best the evening of the concert," he wrote in the new letter, which was released by the Northwest Local School District in suburban Cincinnati.

The school and the district had earlier disavowed the rules Reeves set out. Pleasant Run Middle School apologized in a tweet on Saturday, saying the letter wasn't approved by the administration and "does not reflect our views at all."

It added that guidelines for the concert "will be in alignment with prior years."

Reeves, who is in his first year at the Pleasant Run school, initially encouraged female students to visit a "cosmetologist" and said bright hair colors, such as pink or red, would be banned. He told male students with long hair to make sure it is "neat" and in a "conservative ponytail style."

Students were warned they could be sent home and that their grades would be affected, if they didn't follow the guidelines. His first letter said the goal was to avoid drawing attention to "an individual performer on stage" during the concert Thursday evening.

The school district in 2017 created a diversity committee that developed an action plan that included steps to increase inclusion, multicultural awareness and minority staff recruitment.

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