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Malden charter school’s ethnically insensitive hair policy

Melvin B. Miller | 5/25/2017, 6 a.m.

With so many critical matters confronting society, it seems frivolous to be overly concerned about the civil rights of wearing hair extensions. In fact, many of the older generation find those hair styles unappealing. Nonetheless, since the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School established a dress code that discriminates against black students in its implementation, there arose the right to challenge the fairness of the policy.

Indeed, independent schools have the right to establish dress codes, and most charter schools do so. Khaki skirts and trousers with monogrammed polo shirts of various colors is the usual uniform. Mystic Valley also prohibits “drastic or unnatural hair colors or styles … that could be distracting to other students.” The mandate also prohibits “hair more than two inches in thickness or height as well as hair extensions.”

According to Alex Dan, the school’s interim director, the reason for the ban is that Mystic Valley “…promotes equity by focusing on what unites and by reducing visible gaps between those of different means.” He decries hair extensions as being expensive and beyond the means of some students. That is the reason many charter schools require uniforms to eliminate any emphasis on “style, fashion or materialism.”

While Mystic Valley Charter School was undoubtedly well intentioned, it was advisable to suspend the school’s dress code which now violates the U.S. Department of Justice guidelines by imposing a restriction on black students that will not apply to others. This is especially serious because white students are not reprimanded for violation of the hair coloring restriction.

This is a conflict that has already gone too far.