Former Ardmore Students Suspended For Hairstyles

8-25-05 - Two students have been placed on in-school suspension because their braided hairstyle, which their mother says is part of their culture, is too long and violates school policy.

Officials at Resaca Middle School said they placed brothers Rodney and Skyler Burns in a classroom isolated from other students on Tuesday because their hair brushes their shoulders. Los Fresnos school district policy dictates boys' hair must be kept above the collar.

Rodney, 14, and Skyler, 12, have a heritage that includes Native American ancestry, according to their mother, Deborah Burns.

"They are punishing them over their heritage," she said in a story for Thursday's edition of The Brownsville Herald.

She said the boys' grandfather was a Chickasaw Indian and that the hairstyle was representative of the family's culture. They have not had a haircut in two years, she said.

"It's not about culture. It's about district policy," said Resaca Middle School Principal Stephen Rosales.

A hearing was planned to resolve the issue, Los Fresnos Superintendent Sylvia Atkinson said.

"I know the parent has raised a cultural issue," Atkinson said. "We are not biased or we don't discriminate against any culture."

The boys recently transferred from Ardmore, Okla., and started classes Monday. Their suspensions began the next day.

"It's not fun," Rodney Burns said. "I really don't like it. They should be treating us better, like showing us around than just keeping us in that room."