Black Charter School Students Given Detention And Banned From Prom For Having Braided Hair

News, Race and Ethnicity

Parents are furious about this school punishing black kids for having a normal hair style.

Black students at a Malden, MA charter school who wear their hair in braids are facing detention and suspension after administrators say the hairstyles violate the school’s dress code. Parents believe the crackdown as racist and meant to specifically target black students.

The Boston Globe reported Colleen Cook, whose twin 15-year-old daughters, Deanna and Mya, attend the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, said Thursday evening that her children have served multiple detentions since last week and could be suspended.

“They teach them at a very high academic level and I appreciate that, and that’s why they go to the school,” Cook said. “But, unfortunately, they don’t have any sensitivity to diversity at all.”

Two other mothers said their black or biracial children had been subjected to discipline or questioning over their hairstyles — braids with extensions — which the parents describe as important expressions of culture. It is also a fairly normal style for black girls.

Mystic Valley is attempting to defend its actions by stating that its rules are meant to promote education rather than style, fashion and materialism—thus reducing visible gaps among those of different means, according to The Root.

“One important reason for our students’ success is that we purposefully promote equity by focusing on what unites our students and reducing visible gaps between those of different means,” the school said in a statement. “Our policies, including those governing student appearance and attire, foster a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion, or materialism. Our policy on hair extensions, which tend to be very expensive, is consistent with, and a part of, the educational environment that we believe is so important to our students’ success.”

However, some parents just see the policy as racist. More than 40 percent of the school’s students are young people of color—and 17 percent of those students are black, the Globe notes.

The twins’ mother argues the policy against hair extensions and braids disproportionately affects black students. The twins are otherwise model students. Mya is actually in the National Honor Society, according to the report, with a 3.79 GPA, while Deanna maintains a 3.3. GPA.

According to The Root:

Cook’s daughters refused to remove their braids and have since served an hour of detention before school starts each day, and nearly an hour afterward. They have also been kicked out of after-school sports—which especially hurts Deanna, who is on the school’s track team—and even banned from the prom.

Cook has been in contact with the NAACP and the state’s Anti-Defamation League looking for help. The ADL is planning to meet with school administrators Friday, Cook confirmed.

Meanwhile, other black girls at the school have faced even harsher punishments.

Lauren Kayondo, 15, was initially told that she would have to serve detention, but when she refused to take out her braids this week, she was suspended, her mother, Annette Namuddu, told the Globe.

“It’s discrimination,” Namuddu said. “I see white kids with colored hair, and you are not supposed to color your hair, and they walk around like it’s nothing.”

Namuddu, who feels that the school is picking on black children, said that Lauren has been returning home from school in tears.

“My daughter is a good student. Never gets in trouble,” Namuddu said. “Lauren was having difficulty in mathematics, but they should be helping her out instead of putting her in detention.”

What do you think of this rule? Is it discriminatory and targeted at black girls?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

(Article By Jeremiah Jones)

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