Andreas Garcia Native America boy has long hair cut by classmates in front of distracted teacher at Del City Elementary School in Oklahoma.
A Native boy’s family are demanding answers after their first grade son forcibly had his long hair cut by two other students while attending school at Del City Elementary in Oklahoma.
The episode left the bullied boy having the back of his hair being chopped close to his scalp, leaving an unsightly patch with longer strands of hair either side.
‘The investigation into this incident began the same day (as the incident),’ Del City Superintendent Dr. Rick Cobb said in a statement on March 17, a week after the incident. ‘Unfortunately, this was followed by a snow day and then Spring Break. While this time away from school has led to some delays in the investigation, we are taking this incident very seriously.’
‘This is our tradition,’
The boy’s father, Jamal Garcia, condemned his son’s teacher for not paying attention to what had happened, saying: ‘How do you not notice two kids standing over someone and getting their haircut?’
‘This is our tradition,’ said Andreas’s mother Denise Gonzales to KFOR. ‘He loves his hair and he took the time to grow it out.’
The incident has psychologically impacted Andreas, who has ‘not smiled’ once since losing his hair.
‘And he’s always smiling and he’s never like this,’ Garcia said.
Meanwhile, Garcia has threatened to remove his son from Del City Elementary, confessing that this isn’t the first time his son has been bullied.
‘The only thing I can do is I’m just going to take my son out of school and put him somewhere else or homeschool him,’ he said.
The school district said that it recognized the significance of hair to students’ identities and that it was taking the issue seriously.
Forced cutting of a Native boy’s hair against his or his family’s will
‘Any students found to be involved will receive discipline in a manner consistent with steps outlined in our student handbook,’ Cobb said.
Andreas says that he intends to fully grow his hair back to the length that it was previously.
The incident is one of several incidents in the region that involves the forced cutting of a Native boy’s hair against his or his family’s will.
Last fall, in Texas, Native News Online reported a family’s complaint against a school district for punishing a kindergarten student via in-school suspension because he had long hair while attending Martinez Elementary School in Texas. ACLU Texas filed a complaint on behalf of the boy’s family to the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights asking the agency to investigate civil rights violations.
ACLU Texas alleged the case constitutes race and religion discrimination because the boy was a Native American student and had specifically been targeted because of his race and or religion.