What is it about hair that is so threatening to school administrations?
In January I gave you the update on 4-year-old Taylor Pugh, who in November had been suspended from his school in Texas because of his long hair. He was allowed back in January with the same long hair, but now styled in French braids that were close to the head and didn’t end in a ponytail. Apparently that was acceptable to Mesquite Independent School District Superintendent Linda Henrie.
Now it appears that chaetophobia ( a fear of hair) is not restricted to Texas.
Last Tuesday, nine-year-old twins Jorden and Jacen Edwards were taken out of their classroom in Columbia, Tennessee and hauled into the office of Connie Brown, the principal. There they learned that their matching haircuts had earned them matching suspensions from Randolph Howell Elementary School. Brown called their style a “gang haircut” and told the boys they could not return to class until they shaved their heads.
Suspended for a haircut? Really? The two fourth graders have identical buzz cuts with a curved line going along the left side of their head, from the forehead inward. As far as the twins and their dad, Paul Edwards, are concerned, the line is a part. The school, however, considered this line to be a gang sign, and the assistant principal signed paperwork stating that Jorden and Jacen were in violation of the school dress code. Edwards says he was told by the school, “They need to be shaved before we allow them back in school or they will stay in suspension until their hair grows back.”
According to the school dress code, students must not have symbols, numbers, or letters shaved into their haircuts. The school is located in Maury County, which has a system-wide dress code, but individual schools may choose to enforce it differently.
Bizarrely, the boys have been sporting these exact haircuts, with the line, since they were toddlers, so why the rush to punish now? After a one-day in-school suspension, and a day at home, the twins are back in school now, but their dad feels that the damage has been done.
Edwards wants those suspensions taken off school records, and he wants the adminsitrators involved to be reprimanded.
The stated Beliefs of Randolph Howell Elementary School start out like this: “Every child deserves every chance every day to feel and become successful.” But not if you have a part in your hair? Should there be a little proviso here?
Yet again, school administrators have failed to use simple common sense in their application of zero tolerance policies. As I’ve stated before, these policies should be used as guidelines. Every situation is different and requires intelligence and compassion in the determination of what the appropriate solution is. Wake up, administrators, stop throwing your weight around, and start addressing the issues that really make a difference. Like teaching the kids, maybe?
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