Remember the story
of 5-year-old Adriel Arocha who was being held to one of those zero-tolerance policies regarding dress code because his hair was too long?
Well, according to a federal judge ruling, the Needville Independent School District
in Texas violated state law
and the United States Constitution by punishing the kindergartner because of religious beliefs.
The Houston Chron explained that
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
The school district's written policy would require that Adriel, who is a Native American Apache Indian, wear his hair in his shirt during school functions, including football games and dances. The Apache Indian tradition considers their hair sacred and not to be cut except in certain events such as death.
Adriel was forced to attend classes in isolation away from other children because his parents did not braid it in one long braid and tuck it in the back of his shirt, but rather braided it in two braids that hung outside his shirt. That was the school's "accommodation" after Adriel's parent's filed for a religious exemption before the 2008-2009 school year began.
The ACLU got involved back in October and a temporary injunction was granted which allowed the kindergartner to head back to regular classes. On Tuesday, that temporary injunction became permanent and Ariel's hair, which is approximately 13 inches in length, will be set free.
Although the superintendent at Needville did not comment on the court order, a spokesperson from the ACLU did say that the family held no "grudge against the school district" and that little Adriel was thriving in his educational setting.