Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Haircuts at north-central Nebraska school district violated Native students' rights, federal lawsuit alleges
0 Comments
editor's pick topical alert

Haircuts at north-central Nebraska school district violated Native students' rights, federal lawsuit alleges

  • Updated
  • 0

A north-central Nebraska school district violated students' Native beliefs when an employee cut their hair, a lawsuit filed in federal court Monday alleges.

The American Civil Liberties Union brought the suit on behalf of two parents against Cody-Kilgore Unified Schools, saying an employee cut the hair of two elementary students without their consent twice during head lice exams in the spring of 2020.

The haircuts continued even after the parents objected, the suit claims.

'Bay High' — LPS, Rabble Mill partnering on new focus program centered around content creation, digital media

The parents, who live in Kilgore, say the haircuts violated the beliefs of their children, who are Lakota and affiliated with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. In their culture, the length of their hair is viewed as a sacred symbol, and hair can only be cut under specific circumstance and by select people. 

“We believe our hair is our spirit; as it grows, our spirit grows,” one of the parents named in the suit said in a news release.

The parents contend the school's actions violated the First Amendment, as well as the constitutional right to due process, while also breaching racial discrimination provisions under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act. The parents are seeking damages in the case.

$16.8M bond measure passed for Douglas County West schools

The discrimination claim is tied to the school's differential treatment of lice checks, the ACLU argues. The school district's head lice policy does not mention trimming hair, the suit says, and a letter from officials acknowledged the district was following a different, unwritten policy for Natives.

The situation could have been avoided if the school had merely followed the policy already on the books and respected the family's beliefs, said ACLU of Nebraska's Rose Godinez.

“Discrimination and disrespect have no place in Nebraska," Godinez said.

When reached by phone Monday, Cody-Kilgore Superintendent Ryan Orrock said he was not aware of the lawsuit and offered no comment.

Name recommendations for Northwest High, Robinson Elementary move forward
LPS reevaluating dedicated remote learning program for middle and high school students

Contact the writer at zhammack@journalstar.com or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @zach_hammack

0 Comments
0
1
1
1
5

Want to see more like this?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

K-12 education reporter

Zach Hammack, a 2018 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News