PARENTS

Aboriginal Boy Sent Home From School For His Mohawk

09/22/2015 11:50 EDT | Updated 09/22/2015 11:50 EDT

A seven-year-old boy is causing quite the controversy with his new school haircut.

Grade 2 student Jakobe Sanden showed up to Arrowhead Elementary School in Santa Clara, Utah, last Monday sporting a Mohawk — a hairstyle that represents his family’s Native American heritage. However, since the new ‘do is in violation of the school’s dress code, Jakobe was sent to the principal’s office.

School officials then called the boy’s parents and told them to have his hair cut since it was a distraction to other students. “We had the students that weren’t used to it,” Principal Susan Harrah said. “They had called that out. So the teacher brought the student to my attention.”

The school’s request did not sit well with his parents, Gary and Teyawnna Sanden. Jakobe’s mother even took to Facebook to vent her frustrations.

"So f'n irritated right now," she wrote on Sept. 14. "I get a call from the boys' school and she said Kobe's not allowed to have a Mohawk...that's it's school policy.😡 WTH! Really? It's hair! Let's see how this goes...."

According to the Washington County School District’s dress code, “Students have the responsibility to avoid grooming that causes a distraction or disruption, interrupting school decorum and adversely affecting the educational process.”

Despite these guidelines, the Sandens refused to cut their son’s hair, arguing that the style is part of their culture. “I told the superintendent I was in no means going to cut his hair because it’s a symbol of who we are,” the dad told The Washington Post.

The parents then appealed the school’s decision, but were asked to provide documentation from tribal leaders supporting their claim that the haircut is traditional. While the principal says this was all part of procedure, Teyawnna admits that it felt like discrimination.

“I’m sure they didn’t intend it to be, but if felt like a form of discrimination,” the mom 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.”

Jakobe was eventually allowed to return to class, but he spent a good part of the day sitting by himself in the principal’s office. “That's the sad part of the whole situation,” his father said. “To ostracize him like that — that's stuff from the '50s.”

While dad Gary says the situation “could have been handled 10 different ways,” the parents are just happy their son is back in school.

Do you think hairstyles should be part of school dress codes?

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