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Malden charter school suspends hair extension ban criticized for targeting black students

Mystic Valley Regional Charter School is now working with Attorney General Maura Healey's office on a new uniform policy.
Mystic Valley Regional Charter School
The school has suspended its ban on hair extensions after backlash that the policy unfairly targeted students of color. Photo: Google Maps

A Malden charter school dropped its ban on hair extensions days after Attorney General Maura Healey accused them of targeting black students with the practice.

Mystic Valley Regional Charter School’s board of trustees met for a closed meeting Sunday night to review the school’s hair and makeup dress-code regulations.

The rules sparked controversy after two black students were given detention and banned from school activities for wearing their hair in braids with extensions.

Healey’s office announced in a letter on Friday that the school’s hair and makeup policy single out students of color and thus “violates state and federal law … by subjecting students of color, especially black students, to differential treatment.”

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In a letter sent to parents of Mystic Valley students, Interim Director Alexander Dan said that the administration had already started implementing changes to its hair policy before the backlash, specifically to the provision against hair that is more than 2 inches in height.

“This change was made well before any outside interest group or government agency raised a concern, for the first time earlier this month, that our state-approved policy might be impacting any class of students unfairly,” the letter reads. “It should also be noted that in cases where a student had a substantiated religious or medical conflict with our policy, the school adjusted its policies to accommodate those concerns.”

The entire hair section of the uniform policy has been suspended for the rest of the school year. Students who were facing consequences for violating that policy may now also resume all school activities, Dan told reporters Sunday night.

The school will now work with the attorney general’s office on a uniform policy that “is consistent with our long-standing commitment to the rights of all our students,” officials wrote.

 
 
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