COLORADO SPRINGS — A five-year-old boy is to be expelled from Kindergarten for multiple dress code violations at a Colorado Springs school.
Now the boy’s family is filing a federal lawsuit against the charter school and it’s all over a single earring. The lawsuit is based on violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The five-year-old attends a public charter school, The Rocky Mountain Classical Academy, in District 49. The school allows girl students to wear earrings but punishes the boy students for doing so.
FOX21 spoke to the family’s attorney.
“This boy is wearing an earring. He wants to wear an earring to school,” said Attorney Igor Raykin. “We felt we had no choice but to file this lawsuit.”
Raykin said the boy’s mother was made aware of the dress code but continued to allow her son to wear the earring because the policy is in the attorney’s words “clearly discriminatory.”
Raykin used to be a teacher and a dean in charge of discipline. He said at first he couldn’t believe this was happening.
“I have never ever represented a kid for a dress code violation and expulsion,” Raykin scoffed. “Honestly I could have never imagined representing a kid — especially one who’s 5 years old — for a dress code violation. Really this boggles the mind.”
Here’s the policy word for word:
“Tattoos and body piercings, other than girls’ earrings, are not allowed. Earrings must be limited to 1 earring per ear. Large, dangling or hoop-type earrings are not allowed. Jewelry other than watches for boys or girls, and small earrings on girls, may not be worn. This includes bracelets. Bracelets are not allowed.”According to Rocky Mountain Classical Academy’s website.
According to documents, the mother and the school had multiple discussions about the policy. A meeting was held on August 30, but there was no resolution.
On Nov. 4, 6, 11, and 14, the student received a written warning each day. A slip was sent home which they call an “Oops Slips,” saying he violated the dress code.
On Dec. 3, the mother was invited to address her concerns at a board meeting, but nothing came of that. The boy continued to wear the earring.
On Dec. 5 the mother was given another warning that her son has until Dec. 9 to wear comply with the dress code.
On Dec. 11 and 12 he came with the earring again. He was told he was suspended both days.
Also, on Dec. 12, the mother received this email:
“As of December 12, 2019 your family has still refused to comply with our Uniform Dress Code Policy. Due to this refusal, and in consultation with our attorney and District 49, we will begin the process of dis-enrollment for [Doe] from Rocky Mountain Classical Academy. He may attend school…December 16, 2019 through Friday, December 20, 2019. On December 20th, 2019 RMCA will dis-enroll [Doe] from our roster…[W]e will contact his home school…to have his records transferred.”Provided by: Igor Raykin
“The hope here is that he just stays in the school. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, he’s not suing for millions of dollars,” Raykin said. “This isn’t only about this mother and this child, we’re here because this school has chosen to have this kind of policy.”
Rocky Mountain Classical Academy was out for a snow day Monday but did send a response to FOX21 on Tuesday.
The full statement is below:
Rocky Mountain Classical Academy works hard every day to create a positive school environment for all its students. Since the School’s opening, an important component of this has included a dress code for all students. Our dress code is part of our overall student code of conduct, which expects students to uphold a high standard of excellence and contribute in a positive fashion to their class and the school. Our dress code is published on our website and contained in the Parent Student Handbook, which all parents must review and sign at the beginning of each school year. The mother in this situation signed the Parent Student Handbook at the beginning of the year like all other parents. She was aware of RMCA’s dress code prior to enrolling her son in Kindergarten.
As with every other parent, numerous RMCA employees have asked the mother to bring her son to school in compliance with the dress code, which would mean removing his earrings when he is at school. She has refused and appealed her disagreement up the chain of command to the RMCA Board, which upheld the dress code after a public meeting on December 3, 2019. Once the Board made its final decision, the School instructed the mother to comply with the dress code by December 9, but she continued to refuse. This left the School no choice but to suspend the student for willfully disobeying the School’s rules. The School will continue to insist that this family, like every other, obeys the RMCA dress code, which contributes towards the positive educational environment that all RMCA families enjoy each day.Cullen McDowell Executive Principal