Seminole school officials say social media inflamed a situation that was quickly and fairly resolved through long-standing policies in the first week of classes.
According to Seminole Superintendent Doug Harriman, a five-year-old boy was brought by his mother to F.J. Young Elementary Monday morning about 9 a.m. for his first day of Kindergarten.
The boy had long hair that reached to his lower back, normally prohibited by SISD dress code.
Harriman told the Sentinel on Friday that campus administrators informed the boy’s mother that long hair is not allowed, but she told them he is of Native American descent and his long hair conforms to his religious beliefs.
When asked by the principal for documentation for school records, the mother agreed to retrieve them from her home nearby.
Harriman said she returned to the campus late Monday afternoon with the appropriate paperwork, but not before alerting area television stations to the situation.
Upon the student’s return to the school, the principal escorted him around the building to familiarize him with the facility, introduced him to his teacher and showed him the recently completed gymnasium.
On Tuesday and for the remainder of the week, he attended class without incident.
“Bottom line, the child is in our school and he did not have to cut his hair because in our code of conduct, exceptions are made for religious and/or cultural differences,” Harriman said. “We realize people have their own beliefs and values and it is our privilege to allow them to observe the rules and traditions of their heritage.”
Harriman said Seminole ISD has always had and adhered to a dress code, as well as a student code of conduct, as determined by the school board.
“Under these circumstances, we don’t have any issues with his hair length,” the Superintendent said. “We’re not going to discriminate against him or any of our students in any way. We followed long-standing procedures perfectly and we wish this student and all of his classmates a wonderful school year in Seminole ISD.”