A Native American second-grader sparked controversy when he showed up at his Utah elementary school recently with a new Mohawk haircut.
Kobe Sanden, 7, a student at Arrowhead Elementary School in Santa Clara, was removed from the classroom and sent to the principal’s office over the hairstyle -- which his teacher found disruptive, Fox13 reported Thursday.
Eventually, the boy was allowed to return to class with the Mohawk after his mother provided documentation the school requested backing her claim that the haircut was part of their family’s Native American culture.
Teyawnna Sanden told the station she wasn’t happy with the school’s demand for proof.
“I’m sure they didn’t intend it to be, but it felt like a form of discrimination,” she said. “We didn’t want to take it there. We provided the papers, but we didn’t feel like it was right to let it go.”
Sanden said she was told to pick up her son early last week because the Mohawk violated Arrowhead’s dress code. He had gotten the haircut a few days earlier.
“I was kind of taken aback,” she told the station.
Sanden is a member of the Kaibab Band of Paiutes Indians; her husband belongs to the Seneca Tribe.
Principal Susan Harrah told the station the boy disrupted class dress code when he showed up with the Mohawk.
“We had the students that weren’t used to it,” she said. “They had called that out. So the teacher brought the student to my attention.”
Seneca tribal leaders submitted a letter that got Kobe back in the classroom, according to a local newspaper, the Spectrum.
The letter stated that it was common for Seneca boys to wear a Mohawk because it was a way to share who they are after years of discrimination and oppression, the paper reported.
Harrah called the resolution a “positive experience.”
“We believe in everyone’s cultural diversity, their beliefs. So we want to honor [that] and so that’s why we let the Mohawk stay and sent him back to class,” Harrah told the station.