Parents say school stole mourning opportunity from them

KILGORE -- Two Lakota students in Nebraska will burn their hair in a traditional healing process after their school allegedly cut their hair against their will in Kilgore, northern Nebraska.

The girls' parents filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against a Cody Kilgore Unified School after they say an employee repeatedly -- and after warning -- cut the kids' hair. Defendants say both occasions were related to head lice checks, but the ACLU said it was a violation of the family's First Amendment to respect their religious beliefs. 

The parents tell NCN that Lakota hair is sacred. 

"Once your hair is cut, then your spirit is sad," said Norma LeRoy, the plaintiff. She said it is a part of one's spirit. 

The family says cutting hair of someone in the Lakota tribe is normally reserved for special occasions, like a funeral. In fact, the family was says they were planning to cut their hair for their grandmother's funeral. 

"We didn't get that chance to mourn," LeRoy said. 

Plaintiff Alice Johnson said she hopes this case serves as a reminder to respect every culture's laws. She said thinking someone would ignore that, "It is very upsetting to know there are people who would do that."  

Read the lawsuit.