Five-year-old Malachi Wilson was all set to start kindergarten at F.J. Young Elementary in Seminole, Texas, but on Monday he was told to cut his hair and was sent home. His mother, April Wilson, contacted the Navajo Nation; the American Indian Movement also put pressure on the district to reverse its decision against the child. Only after she provided documentation of her son’s Native-ness through Malachi’s Certificate of Indian Blood did the Seminole Independent School District change its mind.
The district’s rather lengthy student dress code stipulates more than a dozen rules when it comes to hair. Among them, Mohawks are prohibited. (Mohawks are called that for the way that some actual Mohawk people wear their hair.) Dreadlocks are also prohibited. The handbook says exceptions are made on “certain recognized religious or spiritual beliefs,” but students “must receive prior approval by the campus administrator.” The district changed its mind about Wilson’s hair–but he nevertheless missed his first day of school.