Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Texas School Board Suspends 4 Year Old Child for Long Hair?

Apparently I am behind on the times. Some few weeks ago, the principle of Floyd Elementary School in Dallas, Texas decided that it was appropriate to suspend - SUSPEND FROM SCHOOL - a 4 year old child. Now, was the child misbehaving? No. Was he being disruptive to the education of others? No. Was he being sexually inappropriate towards other students? No.

So you may wonder what infraction this child has committed that would call for such a harsh response from the schools. After all, the child is barely even old enough to attend school.

What horrible incident has caused the school to suspend the child? 

His hair is too long. 

That's right. The child's hair is too long and the parents refuse to cut his hair just because the principle of the school insists that his hair must abide by the school's code.

The parents refused to cut Taylor's hair. The school responded by suspending him. After a length of time, the school decided to allow Taylor to attend school - under in-school suspension. For the past few weeks, this 4 year old child has been sentenced to live out his days separated from all of his friends and all other children at the school. He is isolated in the library without the benefits of social interaction or play time, being taught by a teacher's aide.

The parents are currently engaged in a fight for their child's right to wear his hair as he pleases. I agree with their choice to fight the schools on this matter. In fact, I would need to point out that if his hair is too long then every girl in the class should also be forced to cut her hair or braid it daily as the Board has ruled their son can keep his long hair as long as he braids it every day.

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Chinaren said...

Sorry, but I don't agree.

Schools have a right to set a dress code, and if you want to go there, then you should abide by the code.

What about other school rules? What if someone punched another kid and they suspended the puncher. Would that be unfair?

What about jobs? If a company says you must wear a shirt and tie, and you disagree, have you a right to say no? No, because it's their company, and you tacticitly agree with their terms by going there.

I'm not against long hair here, but if the parents don't like the rule, then they should take their kid to a school that allows it.

Dad said...


This is a government school we are talking about - not a private school. If it were a private school, then I would agree totally with you and the school.

Your points:

There is a significant difference between shoulder-long hair and violence. Surely you can see that. If you can't see the difference, then consider whether this child's shoulder-long hair has caused, or is likely to cause, injury or harm to anyone else.

This child is required to go to school by law, and that requirement is backed up by the implicit threat of force by the government of the state of Texas.

I know Texas is a bit strange, but I don't think that there is a state law requiring adults to have a job, with that requirement being backed up by sanctions that can include fines and imprisonment.

Of course, I'm not a Texas lawyer, so I may be wrong there.

Dress codes for schools are upheld in the courts when the code is based on safety and/or on preventing disruption of ordinary school functions. They are struck down when they are arbitrary, capricious and do not serve any legitimate school function.

Examples: A government school may successfully ban clothing which depicts a illegal drugs (a marijuana leaf), is a marker of gang membership (a red do-rag), contains sayings which constitutes sexual harassment ("The word of the day is legs, help spread the word"), is racially offensive or advocates violence ("Kill whitey").

A government school may not ban clothing which constitutes protected free speech, when that speech does not fall under one of the exceptions listed above. T-shirts supporting a political candidate, for example, are okay.

A school system is also allowed too have a policy of school uniforms - where every child wears the same thing as every other child.

This case does not even pass the laugh test. It obviously is not about safety or they would ban long hair for girls as well.

It is also not reasonably about disruption of the school.

Do you seriously think that other 4-year-olds become unable to do their finger-painting because one boy has shoulder-long hair? Really?

There is no indication that this school system requires uniforms, and from the new video, it does not appear that other children are in uniform.

The hair rule for this boy appears to be arbitrary and capricious. It is clearly not even about long hair, because they are willing to allow it if he wears it in a particular feminine fashion (in braids).

I've seen the news videos, and this boy's hair is kept neat and clean. His mother puts it in a ponytail so that it is off his ears and out of his face.

The mother is right and the school is wrong. I hope she has the stones to keep up the fight.

Or even better, yank her kid out of the government education program and teach him at home.

Mom said...

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Mom said...

@ Chinaren

The school has a right to set a dress code that is reasonable and fair. I agree. However, requiring boys to cut their hair and not requiring girls to also maintain short hair is not only ridiculous, but also based clearly in gender discrimination. Had the school mandated that all children - not just boys - maintain short hair or, as they have now conceded for this one child, have their hair braided every day, then perhaps the rule would be more acceptable.

This is not the case, though, is it? Girls are not required to maintain their hair in any form or fashion. They are not required to keep their hair shorter than their ears. They are not required to have their hair in pony tails or braids every day. In fact, girls are expected to have long, flowing hair that can easily get into the paint or glue or their eyes without even a single complaint from the teachers.

As for the parents sending their child to another school, that may not be a possibility for these parents. Private school is expensive. Obviously, they live in the school district of the school their child is attending. Moving is not likely to be an option for them, nor should they be required to do so. The district laws probably will not allow them to transfer their child to a school in a different county, and even if they could, that would cause undo hardship on them to get their children to school.

The schools are required by law to provide a fair and equitable education to all children.

One of the major arguments that many teachers have against home schoolers is the case of socialization. In at least this one instance, the child is being separated from every other child simply because his hair style is longer than his ears. He is not allowed play time or social interaction.

What does this teach him?

What does this teach the other children in his class?

The issue at hand, in reality, is an issue of conformity - not education. In fact, many aspects of public education are only about conformity. (Dress the same, look the same, act the same, think the same.) Submit to the "law" without thinking about whether the law is good or not, because the powers that be have said that the law must be obeyed.

While I think home schooling is awesome, it may not be something that this family is willing or able to take on. They have a right to send their child to the public school system and have him receive an appropriate education. Isolating him in the library is not appropriate - certainly not for his age.

Natalie said...

I totally agree with you! I cannot even believe that the school system is already de-socializing this child. My son is 4 and I would be extremely ticked off if my child was treated in this manner. Does that mean that Gothic styles should be separated? I mean this to me is like racisim. They are picking and treating this child differently because of his looks/style.