The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Florida today filed an administrative complaint with the Florida Department of Education on behalf of the family of Clinton (C.J.) Stanley Jr., a six-year-old African-American boy who was enrolled at A Book’s Christian Academy in Apopka, Florida. A Book’s denied C.J. entry to his first day of school because he wears his hair in locs that extend past his ears.

In kicking C.J. out of school on his first day, A Book’s cited a discriminatory school policy that prohibits certain hairstyles that target and disproportionately penalize Black students. The complaint argues that because A Book’s receives public funding, its policy violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

C.J. was enrolled at A Book’s through a publicly funded scholarship program. He arrived for the first day of school at A Book’s on August 13, 2018, only to be told that he could not attend school because his hair extended below his ears and was styled in locs. A Book’s handbook prohibits boys from wearing “dreads” and requires boys’ hair to be “tapered cut, off the collar and ears.”

“By stigmatizing students of color and preventing them from going to school, hair policies like A Book’s serve only to harm students like C.J.,” said LDF Assistant Counsel Angel Harris. “Florida has a responsibility to ensure that any schools receiving public funding comply with federal civil rights laws. We urge the State Department of Education to take steps necessary to prevent other children from enduring an ordeal similar to C.J.’s.”

“No child should be humiliated and deprived of an education because of how they wear their hair,” said Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida. “C.J.’s school – and the State Department of Education – should take steps to avoid subjecting other current and future students to this trauma. Racial equity must be considered in all school policies.”

Read the complaint here.

To read a blog post by C.J.’s father, click here.

To watch a video about C.J.’s experiences, click here.