Original article appeared in San Mateo Patch.
The family of a former kindergarten student at a Roman Catholic school in Belmont who was told his haircut was unacceptable has filed an administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s regional Office for Civil Rights in San Francisco.
The complaint submitted on June 23 alleges that administrators at the Immaculate Heart of Mary School discriminated against 5-year-old Jalyn Broussard on the basis of his race. The kindergartener is African-American.
According to the complaint, Jalyn got a haircut known as a modern fade, in which the hair is longer in the middle, in December. On the day he arrived at school with the new haircut, his mother was called by his teacher and told that the school principal, Teri Grosey, said Jalyn had to leave school and not return until his hair was cut because he was wearing a forbidden “faux hawk” hairdo. A faux hawk, which is a variation on a mohawk haircut, was on a list of forbidden haircuts at the school. The complaint says the family contends that Jalyn’s haircut was not a faux hawk.
Jalyn was allowed to stay for the remainder of the day and that evening he agreed to have his hair cut so that he could attend the school’s Christmas concert.
In January, his parents took him and his older brother out of the school and transferred them to a public school. The complaint alleges that Jalyn was treated differently because of his race and that two Caucasian boys and one Asian-American who had similar haircuts were not disciplined.
The complaint asks the Office for Civil Rights to order the school to refund the fall tuition for the two boys, release the family from an obligation to pay the spring tuition and establish cultural sensitivity training for the school staff. Representatives of the school and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco were not available for comment today. The administrative complaint was prepared by attorneys from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.