Charter school under fire for hair policy parents call racist – 14 News WFIE Evansville

MALDEN, MA (WFXT/CNN) – Parents say a charter school’s hair policy is racist because it singles out African-American students.

Maya and Deanna Cook said they were disciplined for not removing their braids.

Maya, a sophomore, said she was pulled aside two weeks ago, just after she and her sister had their hair braided at a salon. Their adoptive mother, Colleen, also got a call from the school.

“The school basically said they didn’t want anything artificial or unnatural in their hair,” Colleen Cook said. “We told them there’s nothing wrong with their hair the way it is. Their hair is beautiful. There’s no correcting that needs to be done.”

Mystic Valley Regional Charter School’s policy says students may not have a hairstyle distracting to other students, and hair extensions are not allowed.

Cook said the policy only target black students, and they were singled out.

“All the little black children were marched down for a hair inspection, whether they had braids or not and asked are those extensions,” Cook said.

Maya and Deanna got daily detention for their hairstyles.

“I was kind of shocked, because for years, everyone has been able to wear braids,” Maya said.

In a statement, school officials told us “our policies foster a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion or materialism.” It says the policy, specifically regarding hair extensions, “is consistent with the educational environment that we believe is so important to our students’ success.”

Cook said the policy sent a different message to her children.

“It really affects them to their core, and it tells them you’re not good enough, you need to change,” Cook said.

Cook filed a complaint with the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League. She also sent a certified letter to the school and said she has not received a response from school officials.

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