Texas District to Let Native American Student Keep Long Hair

April 14, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The Associated Press


A Native American Somerset High School senior — whose parents filed a federal lawsuit saying his right of religious expression was violated when he received an on-campus suspension — can return to class without having to cut his shoulder-length hair.

Jesus Figueroa’s long hair had been an issue since last school year, landing him in on-campus suspension a few times. After a battle that included the federal lawsuit, the Somerset Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously yesterday night to grant the 17-year-old special dispensation from the district’s grooming policy. The policy bans males’ hair from touching the collar.

“We can make this a maelstrom, or we can bring resolution,” said board President Omar Pachecano in a story yesterday on the San Antonio Express-News’ Web site. “We are here as trustees to ameliorate the business of the district, not to cause any harm to anyone in any way, shape, or form.”

Figueroa is a P’urhépecha Indian who is from Michoacán, Mexico, and believes his hair is a gift from the Great Spirit and should be cut only to mourn the death of a loved one.