Needville Kindergartner Wins Battle to Keep Hair Long

January 22, 2009

Author: Jennifer Latson

Source: The Houston Chronicle

Five-year-old Adriel Arocha doesn’t have to stuff his hair into his shirt collar. And he doesn’t have to meet privately with a teacher, away from his classmates, for flouting the school’s policy on hair length.

On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that the Needville Independent School District’s policy violated state law and the U.S. Constitution by punishing the American Indian kindergartner for religious beliefs that require him to wear his hair long.

“By the policy’s terms, A.A. must wear his hair in his shirt during recess, on field trips, and on the school bus. When he becomes older, he will have to wear his hair down the back of his shirt at football games, school dances, and, presumably, his high school graduation,” wrote U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison. “The policy will deny A.A. the opportunity to express a religious practice that is very dear to him and his father.”