ACLU claims victory in hair war with school
credits: The Detroit News, Yahoo News
DETROIT -- A 14-year-old student who was suspended from Old Redford Academy for keeping his hair long to uphold his religious beliefs will return to school, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced today.
The school's board of directors decided last night to grant Claudius Benson, a freshman at Old Redford Academy, a religious accommodation to the school's dress code, the ACLU announced on its Web site.
School officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment.
"We're encouraged that Old Redford Academy has made the right decision," said Mark Fancher, the attorney who argued the case for the ACLU. "It is our hope that the school has recognized that no public institution or school administrator can decide what is or is not an appropriate religious belief."
Claudius was enrolled in Old Redford for three days before being expelled on Sept. 6 for violating the school's dress code requiring "closely cropped hair."
The school requires that boys wear black blazers, white shirts, ties, and "close cropped hair," with no braids, twists, or dreadlocks.
Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan won a temporary victory when Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Kathleen MacDonald ruled the boy can return to school with his hair pulled in an Afro puff pending an evidentiary hearing to evaluate the sincerity of his religious beliefs.
Alecha Benson said her family practices their own interpretation of old Jewish Law, and that the religion mandates Old Testament-length hair.
"I am just happy to be in school," Claudius said in a released statement.