July 02, 2008

School district vs. 5-year-old

Kindergartner's fight for long hairThe parents of a kindergartner in Fort Bend County are fighting for his right to have long hair in school. They say it's about freedom of religion. The Needville Independent School District says it needs proof.

When Adriel Arocha, 5, was born, his Father Kenney vowed to teach him his heritage.

"We feel that it's important to raise him as Native American until he's able to make a choice," said Kenny.

And part of that heritage meant he would not to cut his son's hair, believing hair holds spiritual meaning.
So what's the problem?All that was fine until Adriel's parents planned to enroll the five-year-old at Needville Elementary School. Despite promising to keep his hair neatly braided, the district refused to accept him.

District policy clearly states student's hair needs to be kept out of the eyes.

No hair can cover any part of the ear, a standard collar and no tufts or tails are allowed. The superintendent says exceptions are made for religion, but Adriel's parents have yet to provide proof of their beliefs.

"I was trying to find out what recognized religion they are that discusses they cannot cut their hair and the information I received then was basically it's their choice," said Needville ISD Superintendent Curtis Rhodes.
Comment:  Uh, the First Amendment doesn't say anything about recognized religion. Also, I'm pretty sure the law forbids a government official from requiring "proof of their beliefs." In short, this school district's policy is probably unconstitutional.

For more on the subject, see "Primitive" Indian Religion.

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