7 year old pulled from class and sent home for sporting a mohawk

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After being sent home from school last Monday because administrators deemed that his haircut was a violation of school policy, 7-year-old Jakobe Sanden is now back in school — though his parents intend to take the matter to the school board, protesting that his mohawk was a traditional Native American haircut.

7 year old pulled from class and sent home for sporting a mohawk

Upon seeing his new mohawk, Jakobe's teacher sent him to the principal's office, where administrators called his parents to pick him up to get a different haircut, according to reports.

His mother, Teyawwna Sanden, told Fox 13 that she was shocked to get a phone call from Arrowhead Elementary School — after all, her son had sported mohawks on and off throughout his life, and his hair has never been an issue at previous schools.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal," she said. "He just got his hair cut on Friday, so I wasn’t expecting it.”

According to Fox 13, Teyawwna Sanden is a member of the Kaibab Band of Paiutes Indians, and her husband Gary Sanden is a member of the Seneca Tribe.

"They wanted Kobe to come home until we cut his hair," Gary Sanden told The Salt Lake Tribune. "That's who he is. That's part of his culture."

School officials, however, took issue, claiming that his haircut was a distraction for other students.

“We had the students that weren’t used to it,” school principal Susan Harrah told Fox 13. “They had called that out. So the teacher brought the student to my attention.”

The Washington County School District’s dress code policy states that “Students have the responsibility to avoid grooming that causes a distraction or disruption, interrupting school decorum and adversely affecting the educational process," but the description left Mrs. Sanden questioning what exactly a "distraction or disruption" entails. She told Fox 13 that the vagueness of the policy left it too open to interpretation and allows administrators to make their own exceptions.

When the Sanden family challenged the decision, appealing to the superintendent of primary education to state that the mohawk was a part of their heritage, they were asked to obtain letters from tribal leaders to confirm Jakobe's cultural roots.

The letter, obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune, was written by tribal leaders from the Seneca Nation of Indians, based in New York, and states that the haircut is a traditional custom for Seneca boys.

"It is common for Seneca boys to wear a Mohawk because after years of discrimination and oppression, they are proud to share who they are," Seneca Nation Tribal Councilor William Canella wrote.

“It’s just a procedure that we use,” Harrah told Fox 13, denying any suggestions that the request for proof was meant to question the Sandens' heritage. "There could be several different cultures that have different beliefs, so we just need to have some documentation.”

She also told The Salt Lake Tribune that it was not unusual for a student's culture to clash with school policy, and was surprised that Jakobe's case garnered attention at all.

She told the Tribune, "There's a protocol that we go through, and I felt like it was handled efficiently and that we respected their culture."

However, Mr. Sanden was less than pleased with the situation, telling the Tribune that "it could have been handled 10 different ways."

“I’m sure they didn’t intend it to be, but it felt like a form of discrimination,” Mrs. Sanden told Fox 13. “We didn’t want to take it there. We provided the papers, but we didn’t feel like it was right to let it go.”

While the issue at hand has been resolved for now, and Jakobe is back at school, Mrs. Sanden told Fox 13 that she intends to take the matter to the school board and appeal for a change in policy.

Fuente: mashable.com
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