Mystic Valley Regional Charter School

Braids Go Against This Charter School’s Dress Code

Why are braids consistently being marked as a violation of a school's dress code policies?

by Brittany Fennell, May 17, 2017

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Mystic Valley Regional Charter School

JONATHAN WIGGS/BOSTON GLOBE STAFF

Black hair is once again at the center of a school controversy. Black students at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Massachusetts, have been facing punishment for wearing braids since April, according to a report from the Boston Globe. The punishments consist of detention and suspension for violating school dress codes.

The two students who have been the main ones to receive the most detention and possible suspension are twin sisters, Deanna and Mya. Their mother, Colleen Cook, says her daughters have been kicked out of after school sports programs and are banned from attending prom if they continue wearing braids.

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

Cook says after spring break, school administrators begin targeting Black and biracial children by marching them down the hall to inspect their hair.

Regarding its controversial ban, the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School released a statement:

“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.”

To help her daughters with this situation, Cook wants help from the NAACP and Massachusetts’ Anti-Defamation League, who met with school administrators on Friday.

School dress codes are one thing, but how does wearing braids go against school policy?

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