Massachusetts School Issues ‘Uniform Infraction' to Student for Wearing Hijab

The hijab is a religious head covering worn by Muslim females

A school in Malden, Massachusetts has received backlash after one of its teachers wrote up a female student wearing hijab for violating the school's uniform policy.

The student, who attends Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, was cited by a teacher for a "uniform infraction," according to the written form. The form filled by the teacher incorrectly spelled the religious garment as "jihab," rather than hijab.

Alexander Dan, the schools director and superintendent, says the school has a policy in place for families to submit documentation for any religious and medical accommodations. The hijab is a religious head covering worn by Muslim females.

"The hijab is one of the most common [accommodations], although other recent accommodations have included the growing of facial hair, the use of a dedicated prayer room, the wearing of a patka, and the application of henna," Dan said in a written statement. "MVRCS also seeks to be as proactive as possible in collaborating with parents to assist them in requesting appropriate religious or medical documentation."

According to Dan, the family of the student did not request an accommodation. Dan said they have requested a meeting with the parents.

The incident has sparked a large response from community members and on social media.

Malden Mayor Gary Christensen said he was "saddened" by the recent incident.

"I understand that MVRCS has been unwavering in the commitment to its uniform policy, however, as a prominent member of our Muslim community stated, wearing hijab is a protected right, it is not part of a uniform and should not be looked at as such," Christensen said in a written statement. "I have been in touch with our state delegation and together we have reached out to the student's family to offer our support and assistance."

Christensen also spoke with Dan and called for a revision of the school's policy, "that better reflects the open-minded approach we all must commit to," he said.

In 2017, the school board members voted to rescind a policy that initially banned 15-year old twins from attend prom and participate in after-school activities for wearing braided extensions, which was against the school dress code.

The state attorney general found three parts of the school's hair policy "unlawful." The policy prompted an introduction of state legislation known as the Crown Act, which would ban hairstyle discrimination. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed it into law in 2022.

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