March 30, 2023

A Massachusetts charter school where an eighth-grader was written up for a uniform violation for wearing a hijab said it understands “the handling of the situation was insensitive.”

A family member of a student at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School Posted on social media The student received a photo of the “School Uniform Compliance Form” from a teacher on Thursday for the hijab. In the description of the violation, the headscarf worn by Muslim women was misspelled as a “zihab”.

The school said in an emailed statement that it allows students to “wear religious clothing as an expression of their sincere faith” but asks students to provide a letter “from a member of their clergy expressing this desire.”

Schools Superintendent Alex Dann said there were no consequences given to the student and the form sent home was to start a conversation with the family about getting a religious accommodation. But Dan admits the situation was mishandled.

“While we would like to reiterate that the well-respected staff members overseeing the process should bear no responsibility for what happened, we understand how our situation was handled as sensitive and look forward to using this moment as a learning opportunity. Our Improve policies and procedures,” the school statement said.

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says its lawyers are representing the student’s family and investigating the situation. The group said that the student now wears hijab to school.

Tahirah Amatul-Wadoud, executive director of CAIR-Massachusetts, said housing would not require families to wear the hijab or other religious clothing.

“I don’t want that student to ever have to justify what he’s wearing,” he said Sunday. “I don’t want them to ever justify that it requires accommodation.”

Mystic Valley Regional Charter School also came under fire in 2017 for a policy banning hair braid extensions. Parents of the then 15-year-old Maya and Deanna Cook said their twin daughters, who are black, were punished for wearing extensions while the white students were not punished for violating hairstyle regulations.

After intense criticism, including from Democratic Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Haley, Abandoned school policy.

“It’s time for Mystic Valley to step up and include people and accept people,” Maya Cook told CBS Boston. “Enough with this monoculture that they want to impose on everyone. It’s not working.”

In July, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed a law banning discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles — such as afros, cornrows or tightly coiled hair — in workplaces, school districts and state school-related organizations.

Earlier this year, one Alumni told CBS Boston A school mission to treat everyone the same and not embrace cultural differences is outdated and racist.

“It hurts your self-esteem,” says Thora Henry. He left the school after questioning whether Mystic Valley was a good school for him. “Yes, the test scores are great, but was it a good school for the mental well-being of the kids, was it a good school for their physical well-being, was it a good school for their emotional well-being. And I personally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t for me.”

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