Star pupil banned from graduation ceremony for wearing a goatee beard

A straight-A student has been barred from his high school graduation ceremony because he refused to shave off his goatee beard.

Andrew Jones, a star football player at Amite High School in Louisiana, New Orleans, was the valedictorian of his class, but he was denied to opportunity to give the valedictorian speech because of his facial hair.

The high school has a policy banning male students from having facial hair, and when Jones refused to shave, school officials confiscated his graduation regalia and sent him home.

Jones, who plans to attend Southeastern Louisiana University on academic and athletic scholarships, said the dress code policy banning beards is “ridiculous”.

"I had the whole beard the whole school year," he told NBC News.

"Students at schools in the other districts that graduated a couple of days before us had goatees."

Jones said he had been allowed to wear his beard all year and was given no warning until the morning of the graduation practice.

The NAACP, a prominent African-American civil rights campaigning organisation, said there may have been a racial element to Jones being barred from his graduation, and have called on four school district officials to resign.

The Tangipahoa Parish's school superintendent Mark Kolwe told ABC News: "The board has a policy and we have to adhere to the policy until it gets changed. Until it changes, I’m responsible for following it."