Mystic Valley Regional Charter School students fifteen-year-old twins, Deena and Maya, have been given detentions, restricted from participating in Latin club, and kicked off of the track team, and are even facing suspension, not for disciplinary behavior, but for simply wearing box braids.
According to the the school, the twins are in err of a hair code violation policy and last week, they released a statement in defense of their policy.
“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... 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.”
The school claims that the policy is applicative to the general student body as a whole and that it does not single out African-American students disproportionately; however, according to a statement by Colleen Cook to the Boston Globe, "[The school] marched black and biracial children down the hall [to inspect their hair].
Reportedly additional students, including fifteen-year-old Lauren Kayondo, have been suspended for not removing their braids, as the school began cracking down on the box braids in April.
Deena and Maya's parents have reached out to the ACLU, NAACP, and the Massachusetts Anti-Defamation League to help address the issue. In the interim, the girls have been instructed to no longer serve detentions received because of their hair.
"We felt that having them attend additional detention didn't serve impacting change with the school anymore," father Aaron Cook told their local television station WBZ. "We felt that the issue now needs to be dealt with between the parents and the school, and continuing to pile on additional punitive detentions really didn't help matters."
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that we have heard a story like this. In 2017, should it matter what hairstyle you wear to school? Sound off! We want to hear from you.