Malden School Removes Controversial Ban On Hair Braid Extensions

MALDEN (CBS/AP) — A Massachusetts charter school that came under fire for what some students and parents considered a racist policy of banning hair braid extensions has quietly removed the rule.

The handbook for 2017-2018 at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School no longer bans hair extensions, hair that’s more than two inches in thickness or height, or hair coloring.

The issue was brought to the public’s attention after Deanna and Mya Cook, students at the school, protested the hair policy after they served repeated detentions.

aaron and colleen cook Malden School Removes Controversial Ban On Hair Braid Extensions

Aaron and Colleen Cook. (Photo credit: WBZ-TV)

The girl’s father Aaron Cook credits the publicity.

“I think the pressure from the public and the pressure from the Attorney General’s office,” Aaron Cook said.

Their mother says she’s proud of the girls.

“We’re very proud of them. They impacted change,” Colleen Cook said.

The girls were banned from teams, clubs, and school events because of their hair extensions.

Attorney General spokesperson Jennifer Fennimore says the AG’s office is pleased with the decision.

“Mystic Valley Regional Charter School and its Board of Trustees have made positive steps toward addressing the community’s concerns, and our office is appreciative of the revisions made to its hair/makeup policy,” Fennimore said.

The attorney general’s office in May told the school its dress code appears to violate laws against racial discrimination.

The parents of the 15-year-old black girls said their daughters were punished for wearing extensions, while white students hadn’t been punished for violations of hairstyle regulations.

School officials said the policy was in place because the hair extensions and other banned styles caused distractions.

deanna and mya cook in august Malden School Removes Controversial Ban On Hair Braid Extensions

Deanna and Mya Cook. (Photo credit: WBZ-TV)

For their part, the girls are pleased with the change and they say the incident has helped them gain confidence in themselves.

“I’m less scared to like, say something,” Mya Cook said.

Her sister Deanna was surprised by the public attention.

“I didn’t think so many people would support us and help us,” she said. “I’m excited to go back and not worry about that hanging over my shoulders.”

The school’s director and spokesperson didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment Saturday.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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