Citing Hair Length Policy, School Asks Teen to Cut Dreadlocks; His Parents Push Back

·3 min read
Family of Braxton Schafer blasts South Dakota school hair length policy that would have required child to cut locks
Family of Braxton Schafer blasts South Dakota school hair length policy that would have required child to cut locks

Toni Schafer

A Sioux Falls, South Dakota 14-year-old will be transferring high schools at the end of the semester after his Catholic school gave him an ultimatum: Cut your dreadlocks or find a new school.

"We're sitting here talking about haircuts when I'm sending him there for an education," Braxton Schafer's mother, Toni Schafer, told local news station KSFY. "And we're getting booted because we have long hair."

Braxton is a freshman at O'Gorman High School. Word of the school's problem with Braxton's dreadlocks was first brought up to Toni during a school event last month. Since then, his parents have met with administrators in the hopes of reaching an agreement.

"We were open to a lot of different compromises," his father Derrick told the outlet. "The only one was just not cutting his hair."

RELATED: Mississippi Moms Detail Horrors of Parenting During Jackson Water Crisis: 'I Just Pray'

The concerned parents explained why cutting his hair would be very "significant" to him, noting he's only cut his hair once before in his entire life.

"The important part of that cultural piece is the length of the lock, not the actual lock itself," Toni told NBC News.

Braxton has had shoulder-length dreadlocks since enrolling in the private Catholic school system in 2018, NBC News reported. The teen has had dreadlocks since he was eight.

Without making concrete accusations, Toni said that the school's decision, "had nothing to do with the policy." She continued, "He's always been an outsider."

Family of Braxton Schafer blasts South Dakota school hair length policy that would have required child to cut locks
Family of Braxton Schafer blasts South Dakota school hair length policy that would have required child to cut locks

Toni Schafer

Instead of reaching a compromise, Braxton was given the ultimatum of either cutting his hair or finding a new school.

"People enroll in our Catholic schools, then they know what we stand for, and they know what we are representing and the structure and environment that we will create for their family," Kyle Groos, president of Bishop O'Gorman Catholic Schools, told KSFY.

According to the school's website, their hair policy states that boys must keep hair length "above the eyes and not touching the collar."

Groos also clarified that the problem is not the style but the length, he told KELO. "Locs and dreadlocks, the style is not the issue," the administrator said. "Length: it's all it's ever been."

RELATED: Mother Remembers Son Who Died Following 'Sick Hazing' During Navy's 'Hell Week': 'It's Not Training'

Family of Braxton Schafer blasts South Dakota school hair length policy that would have required child to cut locks
Family of Braxton Schafer blasts South Dakota school hair length policy that would have required child to cut locks

Toni Schafer

Following the school's decision, the Schafers decided he would transfer high schools after the semester in order to continue football and school band until the end of the season.

"Since he's practiced and had a game, he would not be able to transfer into another school and continue with the activity," Toni said to KSFY, explaining their decision.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Until the end of the semester, per their agreement, the school will allow his hair to remain uncut.

"He just wants to go to school," Derrick pleaded. "He just wants to play football. He wants to be in marching band. He wants to hang out with the kids."