San Diego Catholic High School Takes Back Student Suspension Over Hair Braids

A Mater Dei Catholic High School official told a bi-racial student he was not allowed in class until he cut his braids last week

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In a press conference Friday outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, the NAACP San Diego branch president called the dress code at Mater Dei High School "racist." The group is now demanding the Diocese revisit its dress code at all of its schools and implement diversity training.

The conference follows an incident at the high school involving a sophomore student with a football scholarship.

An e-mail from an assistant principal addressed to the boy's mother last week said the student would receive a "documented in-school suspension" and not be allowed in class until he cut his hair. The e-mail cited the school's dress code limiting boys' hair length to above the eyebrows, middle of the ear and back shirt collar.

After three days of missed school, and public outcry on social media, school administrators met with the student's mother and reversed course. A statement from the Diocese calls the whole thing "a major misunderstanding between the family and the school." The statement also says the suspension and penalty will be cleared from the student's record, and that the school will no longer require him to cut his hair.

Below is a copy of the full statement from the Diocese Office of Catholic School Director John Galvan:

“As a general rule, the diocese does not comment on student discipline issues in public.  Everyone involved has privacy rights and our first duty is to the student and his family.

“In this case, there was a major misunderstanding between the family and the school.  There is no suspension, there is no penalty on this student’s school record of any kind and there is no requirement that he reduce the length of his hair.  We are happy the matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.

“With respect to dress codes,  they exist for a reason, to promote self-respect, to promote respect for fellow students and the learning environment and to prepare students for a successful future.  If our dress codes are not fulfilling that function, or if they are a hindrance to promoting our values of diversity and inclusion, then they may need to be reviewed. 

“Our commitment remains as it has always been, to the success of students in our Catholic Schools and to doing everything we can to prepare them spiritually, ethically and academically for college and beyond.”

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