Malden school faces state ACLU complaint


MALDEN — The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has filed a complaint against Mystic Valley Regional Charter School for allegedly disciplining and suspending African-American and biracial students because their hairstyles violate school policy.

The Associated Press reports that the ACLU filed the complaint Monday with the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for what it says is a discriminatory policy at the Malden charter school.

Coincidentally, the DESE headquarters are located on Pleasant Street in Malden Square.

Parents say students were punished for wearing braids with hair extensions. They contend white students have not been disciplined for coloring their hair, which also is banned under the dress code, according to the AP.

The school does ban hair extensions, which tend to be “very expensive,” a statement last week on behalf of Mystic Valley Interim Director Alex Dan said. But Jennifer Rosenberg of Howell Communications, an agency representing the school, said Monday that braids are not banned.

Last week’s statement said the ban on hair extensions is designed to “foster a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion or materialism.”

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