Classical Charter Schools Decries New ACLU Attack; Defends Boys Grooming Standards


March 21, 2023


LELAND, NC—Classical Charter Schools of America (CCS-A) today defended its longstanding grooming standards, which apply to students at all four of its Southeastern North Carolina charter schools regardless of their race, religion, income, cultural background, or national origins—and attacked attempts by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of North Carolina “to drive a wedge” between school families and administrators “with trumped-up charges” of discrimination and civil-rights violations.

“The ACLU seems more interested in creating controversy than resolving it,” said Baker A. Mitchell, President and CEO of The Roger Bacon Academy, which manages the four CCS-A charter schools.

“Our schools have procedures for dealing with matters such as these. A review is underway and will be considered by the Board on April 27. Instead of respecting the process, the ACLU has jumped in with threats and accusations that drive people apart, rather than bring them together.”

The controversy involves two CCS-A students—one at Classical Charter Schools of Leland, the other at Classical Charter Schools of Whiteville—whose parents have objected to the schools’ enforcement of existing grooming standards because, they say, their sons maintain long hair in accordance with their “Native American culture and religious beliefs.”

The grooming policy, in existence for many years, is published in the Parent Student Handbook (p. 35), which is given to parents of all students enrolling in a CCS-A school. The policy states:

Boys: Grooming Standards

  • Hair must be neatly trimmed and off the collar, above the eyebrows, not below the top of the ears or eyebrows, and not an excessive height.
  • Distracting, extreme, radical, or faddish haircuts, hair styles, and colors are not allowed.
  • No mustaches or beards. Boys must be clean shaven.

During the COVID years, this and a number of other policies were relaxed by the schools to accommodate the many stresses on parents, students, and teachers. “With normalization returning, administration has begun efforts to return to our prior levels of expectations in all areas,” Mitchell said. “If an exemption from a policy is sought by a parent, they must submit their request to the Board in writing stating the reason for the request.”

The Parent Student Handbook (p. 25) includes a grievance policy whereby a parent may request that the Board grant relief from certain requirements.


The policy states all grievances will be handled in the following manner:

1. Grievances will be directed first to the faculty member and/or party with whom the grievance originated.

2. If discussion with the faculty member does not resolve the issue, the grievance will be brought to a member of school administration for resolution.

3. If the grievance is not resolved at this level, a written complaint may be sent to the Board of Trustees including specific issues to be considered as well as the remedy that is desired. Before consideration, it will be verified that the complaint has been referred through the proper administrative channels for resolution. The Board may consider the matter in appropriate cases, in accordance with applicable law and policy. However, the Board is not required to hear all complaints.

“If an exemption request to the hair standard has been submitted for a student, the student may return [from Spring Break] on March 29 and continue with his hair style until the Board has ruled at its next meeting. The Board will look at each exemption request individually and closely, with appropriate consideration for religious beliefs,” Mitchell stressed.

Classical Charter Schools of America (previously known as Charter Day School, Inc.) was founded in 1999 as a single school with 72 students in Leland, NC. CCS-A now has four schools—in Leland, Southport, Whiteville and Wilmington, NC—serving more than 2,500 students. All four schools are classified as Title I schools, serving large numbers of low-income students.