Adriel and his parents won a significant legal victory which
affects all American Indian school children in Texas. Adriel's victory
is also a victory for the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas, since it validates
our status as an American Indian tribe with members
who practice traditional beliefs. We are very, very proud of Adriel,
who stood up for his Lipan heritage and his rights as a American Indian.
Here is a little background on the case. When the dispute started, Adriel was
a kindergarden student in Needville ISD near Houston. The school district had
a dress code and grooming policy. Adriel and his father have never cut their
hair and wear braids as an expression of their religious beliefs growing out
of their Lipan heritage. The school district demanded that Adriel either
cut his braids or wear them inside his shirt. When he refused, they
placed him in in-school suspension. If you are getting the picture that
the school district was too harsh, well, the courts agree with you.
Adriel and his parents had to sue to stop the school district
from expelling him and won the case in the Houston Federal Court.
The school district appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals
(the only court higher than the Fifth Circuit is the U.S. Supreme Court).
Last week, the Fifth Circuit ruled in Adriel's favor, upholding his
victory in the lower court.
This legal victory would not have been possible without the excellent
work done by the attorneys at the Indian Law Center, Sandra Day O'Connor
School of Law in Arizona. They argued Adriel's case and worked with the
Tribe so that we were able to file a brief in support of Adriel.
We are thankful for their assistance.