The family of a teenage girl of African origin said on Monday they would file a written complaint to the education ministry over what they have said was discrimination, after she was told she could not participate in her high school’s graduation ceremony because she had braids.

The incident occurred last week in Larnaca, when the girl, 14, according to her aunt, Eleni Artemi, was told she could not take part in her graduation ceremony because of her braids. The mother she had tried on several occasions to tell the head teacher she had no other option as her daughter’s hair was very difficult to manage.

In the end the girl was allowed to take part in the ceremony after Larnaca mayor Andreas Vyras managed to convince the head teacher let the girl graduate with her classmates, Artemi told state broadcaster CyBC on Monday.

Artemi said that the hair of the girl, whose mother is from Kenya, could not be styled otherwise. “It is painful to comb her hair, every morning they had the same problem,” she said.

She added that the mother had repeatedly tried throughout the year to speak with the head teacher to explain.

She added that the head teacher would not see the girl’s parents and that he kept sending them, through his deputy, the message that braids were not allowed according to school regulations.

Artemi said the girl had not encountered any problems with going to school with braids in the previous years, and that the issue started with the head teacher in question.

On the graduation day, she said, the parents were told the girl would not be allowed to take part in the ceremony due to her braids.

Artemi said that it was not until she called Larnaca mayor Andreas Vyras, who contacted the head teacher himself asking him to reconsider, that she was allowed to take part in the graduation ceremony.

According to CyBC, Education Minister Prodormos Prodromou said on Monday that if a substantiated complaint is filed, it will be investigated.