ACLU of Massachusetts files complaint over Charter School’s Hair Policy

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A complaint has been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts against Malden’s Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, for a discriminatory policy.  The ACLU filed the complaint with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, against the policy.

The charter school punished two students, twin sister Deanna and Mya Scott, for wearing hair extensions with their braids.   The sisters have been banned from participating in track, the Latin Club, and are not allowed to attend school events due to the hair violation.

The project director, Matthew Cregor, from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, said in a letter to the school that the policy may violate the federal anti-discrimination law, citing guidelines from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education. Cregor also informed the school that their hiring policies are discriminatory, as the school only has one black teacher in a count of 156.  Cregor also wrote:

“The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education recently released guidance for school districts on the nondiscriminatory administration of school discipline,” Cregor wrote. “This civil rights guidance is directly relevant to your school’s discriminatory treatment of the Cook twins for three reasons: First, the parents in today’s article expressed concern that white students who dye their hair are not facing the same consequences as black students with braids or extensions. This is especially troubling as your policy does not even discuss suspending students for hair/makeup violations, something that the article suggests has happened.”

“Second, unlike the jewelry and nail polish prohibited in your code, braids and extensions are worn primarily by African-American and Afro-Caribbean students, raising concerns of discriminatory treatment. Third, it is hard to understand how braiding, a deep-rooted cultural practice of people of African descent, can be put in the same category as the ‘drastic and unnatural hair colors’ your code prohibits as ‘distracting,’” Cregor also wrote.

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