Teacher Speaks out After Being Fired for Having His Students Take Down His Braids

The teacher said he had “four or five of over 100 best friends” unbraid his hair for a pass to get out of class.

Elizabeth Randolph - Author

May 13 2024, Published 6:09 p.m. ET

It’s safe to say that most, if not all, teachers want their students to respect them. Even more of them, whether they admit it or not, want to be the “cool teacher.” If you’re reading this and think those two words just don’t go together, you’ve probably never had one.

But for those who know what I’m talking about, having a relatable teacher who is unafraid to ask about the latest trends and always has your back is necessary for a child to feel seen in school. I'm lucky to have had a few.

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While many of us have fond memories of teachers who were cool and helpful when needed, there are many examples of teachers who should stay away from children. Unfortunately, some of the parents and critics of TikToker JaQ Lee’s students have put him in the latter category.

In May 2024, JaQ shared how his cool teacher reputation was shattered after a video of him interacting with his students went viral. Keep reading to see how the act cost JaQ his job.

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JaQ Lee recorded his female middle school students unbraiding his hair.

Before his now most watched TikTok videos, JaQ often recorded himself at the school where he worked. Many of the videos included him playing darts with his students or recording videos of himself with his classroom as his backdrop. However, a TikTok livestream soon caught extra, unwanted attention from the middle school teacher’s channel.

JaQ posted a clip from his livestream on Friday, May 3, 2024. The 4:24 TikTok showed four of his female students unbraiding his hair during the last few minutes of class.

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JaQ explained in a voiceover that he had a hair appointment “immediately after school” and couldn’t take his hair down beforehand. He said a crew came in that day for a promotional video, and he had to look “presentable,” forcing him to wait until later to take his hair down.

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When JaQ had the time to take it down, he said it would’ve taken him too long to take it down himself. He said he asked “four or five of over 100 best friends” to help him take his hair down to speed up the process in exchange for a pass to leave class 10 minutes early.

While JaQ stressed that he didn’t find anything inappropriate about asking students to unbraid his hair, it caused an uproar on TikTok and X, formerly Twitter.

On X, a user named @TanelleIrene expanded the conversation by reposting JaQ’s video and asking Black parents to “tap in” and share their thoughts. Several days after the tweet went viral, JaQ shared in another TikTok that his middle school fired him.

“I can see why they fired JaQ Lee, there are so many videos that as a teacher he shouldn't have been posting,” one user wrote on X. “Probably went against the policy.”

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JaQ Lee tearfully reacted to getting fired by sharing messages from his students.

After getting fired from his school, JaQ reacted by reading some of the messages he received from his students after they heard the news. He cried as he shared that many of them supported him and that they “know that there has never been anything weird going on.”

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Some students even referred to JaQ as their “bestie” and said he helped them through dark times during his time at the middle school. Additionally, JaQ received support from commenters who, despite the backlash, don’t think he should’ve lost his job for his act.

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“You don’t deserve this,” one commenter wrote. “We need more educators like you that genuinely care about your students. This is so upsetting.”

JaQ’s decision to ask his students to unbraid his hair is something I, someone who doesn’t even have children, would take issue with.

While I have been fortunate enough to have teachers feel like safe spaces in school, they’ve never once asked me to groom them. However, JaQ appears to be genuinely heartbroken by the accusations and firing, and it makes me upset to know the students who bonded with him won’t have him around.

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