Families upset. A school in North Carolina tells sons to cut their hair before returning to school

ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WBTW) — Some North Carolina families are upset after their charter school sons were told they couldn’t return to class after spring break unless they cut their hair — which parents say discriminates against their Native American heritage.

Mia Chavis and her son Edward live in Robeson County, but Edward attends a charter school in Whiteville, which is in neighboring Columbus County. Chavis said Edward’s hair was matching last year, but this year things have changed for many boys at the school.

Edward, who is 7, attends Classical Charter Schools of America at the Whiteville campus. Six-year-old Logan Lomboy attends the Leland campus in Brunswick County.

Their mothers said their sons’ long hair was part of their Native American heritage.

“Our culture in the Southeast was extremely strong,” said Ashley Lomboy, Logan’s mother. “We are revitalizing that culture. Hair growth is part of it.”

The family said administrators at the school don’t see it that way.

“To take it away after so much has been taken from the tribes in the Southeast,” she said.

For the past year and a half, Edward’s and Logan’s hair had been kept in a bun or ponytail to comply with the school’s policy of removing hair from collars and ears.

Chavis said she received a call on March 14 that those hairstyles were no longer accepted. Lomboy said school officials told her and other parents that children’s hairstyles were silly after the school added buns and ponytails to the list of banned styles.

Both mothers were told to file a policy complaint with the school, which was rejected.

“I’m not going to cut his hair,” said Abby Gate, mother of six-year-old Rafaella. He said ‘I’m not going back there’ and I said ‘come on but it’s time for school’ and he said ‘no, they said I have to cut my hair’.

Gate said she asked the school board for a formal notice or anything in writing that her son was violating policy. She said those requests were denied.

If the three mothers do not receive a favorable response from the school before the end of spring break on March 29, all three say they will pull their children out of school.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the policy violates First Amendment rights.

Classical Charter Schools of America released a statement to Nexstar’s WBTW that was posted online March 21. The statement said the review is ongoing and will be considered by the board on April 27.

“The ACLU is more interested in creating controversies than in resolving them,” Baker A. Mitchell, president and CEO of Roger Bacon Academy, which owns the charter schools, said in a statement. “Our schools have procedures in place to deal with things like this.”

“Instead of respecting due process, the ACLU has stepped in with threats and accusations that divide people, instead of bringing them together,” the statement continued.

The charter school has released its full grooming policy online.

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