South Dakota: Cut Your Hair Or Leave, School Dress Code Requirements Put A Student On A Tough Spot

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A high school kid and his parents were put in the tough position of having to make a choice when the boy, who was only 14 years old, was informed that he needed to either have a haircut or find a new school to attend.

According to The Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Braxton Shafer has gone to Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools since he was in the sixth grade. He is now in the high school, where the uniform requires males’ hair to be cut above the collar.

Derrick Shafer, Braxton’s father, expressed his disagreement with the regulation by telling the newspaper, “We don’t necessarily agree with that rule.” “We think it’s culturally biased.”

Braxton is African-American, and his dreadlocks fall to a point just over his shoulders.

“He’s had one haircut his entire life, so cutting his hair would be significant,” Derrick told KSFY. “Can students wear dreadlocks? Yes, they can,” Kyle Groos, Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools president, told the Argus Leader. “We simply want the length of the hair to be at the collar or right above the collar. Right there is what we ask for. To be clean, neat and well-cared for.”

Groos has said that the problem at hand is not one of fashion or culture; rather, the clothing code is determined by the policies of the institution. “People enroll in our Catholic schools, then they know what we stand for and they know what we are representing and the structure and the environment that we will create for their family,” Groos told KSFY.

Groos was quoted in the Argus Leader as saying that the guideline about appropriate attire is reviewed every five years, and that the most recent revision took place in 2018.

Braxton is a member of both the marching band and the football team at his school. According to Braxton’s mother’s statement to KSFY, the South Dakota High School Activity Association would not allow Braxton to continue participating in the activities if he moved to a different school since he has already participated in a game and attended practices for the team.

According to the story in the Argus Leader, Braxton’s parents said that they attempted to negotiate a compromise with administrators by offering to tie the hair up so that it would not be touching the collar. However, they were informed that this solution was not acceptable.

KSFY stated that Braxton and his parents came to a deal with the school that would allow Braxton to complete the semester without cutting his hair and then transfer to a another school.