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Valedictorian denied walking at graduation for facial hair

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AMITE- Amite High School's 2016 graduating class walked across the stage without their Valedictorian.

School officials stopped Andrew Jones from walking across the stage with his graduating class because of his facial hair.

Jones is a 4.0 student and the top of his class, however teachers would not let him walk across stage or deliver his valedictorian speech because his facial hair broke school policy.

"They were just straight… you either got to shave or you ain't going to graduate," Jones said.

Teachers blocked Jones at the doorway of the ceremony and told him that he could not enter the graduation.

"They took my gown off of me, they told me I had to give them the gown," Jones said.

Instead of being on stage with the rest of the students, Jones sat in the crowd with his family.

"Even though I couldn't participate I wasn't going to just leave, I had my friends and everyone out there graduating," Jones said.

Superintendent Mark Kowles spoke with News 2's Natalia Verdina about the matter. He said that Jones was warned three times before the graduation ceremony about the school policy.

Jones' parents argue that the policy is not enforced throughout the school year.

"That has nothing to do with graduating," Julie Ricard, Jones' mothe,r said.

However, Jones was not recognized at all in the ceremony.

"They never called his name, he's in the top 10, you only recognized nine," Sabrina Davis, Jones' aunt, said.

Jones says that the only thing he wants to focus on now is his transcript.

"It's all about your high school graduation, you're graduating from all the hard work and it got took away from me like that," Jones said.

Jones said that after his experience, he never wants a relationship with his school.

"I don't want no part with them," Jones said.

Superintendent Kowles said the school policy has been in place for years, and this is not the first time a student has challenged it.

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