6-year-old barred from school over haircut
Michelle Barile said her 6-year-old son usually gets compliments when he sports his newly-cut, spiked mohawk in public.
But at Parma Community School, the attention attracted by Bryan Ruda's hair was enough to get him suspended on Monday.
The board of Constellation Community Schools -- which operates the Parma school and 16 other charter schools in Northeast Ohio -- decided over the weekend to bar Bryan from school.
The reason: His hair is considered a distraction for other students.
"How can they come to a decision if they've never even seen him?" Barile asked, referring to the board's action.
"I understand they have a dress code," she said. "I understand he has a uniform. But this is total discrimination. They're singling out my son. They can't tell me how I can cut his hair."
Principal Linda Geyer was hesitant to talk about student matters, but confirmed the suspension because Bryan's hair was "disrupting the educational program" of the school. More specifically, she said, his classmates were moved to comment on the style and that may have made them less able to concentrate.
"This was his third infraction," Geyer said Tuesday. "We felt that we were being extremely patient."
A school administrator first told Barile told that her son's spiky mohawk was a no-no on the first day of school last fall. After that, Bryan returned to school without hair product to lift his 'do.
As the year went on, the school sent a letter to his mother reiterating the mohawk ban.
Barile said nothing in the school's handbook prohibits a mohawk.
But Geyer said mohawks violate the section of the 127-page parent-student handbook that addresses behavior and the importance of being properly groomed.
As long as Bryan's hair was growing out, the mohawk wasn't much of an issue.
But the problem came to a head, as it were, when Bryan showed up freshly shorn from his every-three-months haircut last Thursday. Shaved on the sides, hair down the middle. No spike, just flat.
On Friday, Barile said, she got a call at work telling her to pick up Bryan at school. He was being given an unexcused absence.
Geyer said it was the other children who noticed Bryan's newly renewed mohawk.
"That's what pretty much started this," she said.
Barile has up to 10 days to request a hearing to appeal the suspension. Instead, she plans to enroll Bryan at Pleasant Valley Elementary School in Parma.
The dress code for elementary school students in the Parma district says nothing about mohawks specifically, just that "only natural hair colors are permitted" and that the district can exclude anything deemed "disruptive or offensive to the conduct of education."
Barile said changing Bryan's hair is not an option.
"It's something that he really likes," Barile said.
"When people hear mohawk, they think it's long, it's spiked, it's crazy looking ,and it's really not." -Cleveland Plain Dealer
I personally find this ridiculous...as though our school systems today have nothing better to focus on?!?!?!?
I would LOVE to see a public school try to suspend my bright, well behaved little boy over his choice of hairstyle....
get out of here....
I've always said it's HAIR....if that is all I ever have to worry about then I deem myself very lucky. I may wish he'd pick a new hairstyle for awhile, but this is what he loves....so this is what he gets. He is by no means over indulged, he is not spoiled....I just feel that there are certain things that we can allow our children to do that let them express their unique and wonderful personalities...hair being one of them. To me it's just not a big deal...at all.
The above photo was from Halloween, normally it's down, but sometimes it's up at school...and shockingly, everyone in our district seems to learn just fine.