Student suspended over ‘Who Dey’ haircut?

November 12th, 2009 by

1544 HAMILTON (oxfordpress)— An in-school suspension for a haircut has a Hamilton family wondering about school priorities and freedom of speech.
Dustin Reader, an eighth-grader at Garfield Middle School, received an in-school suspension Monday because of a haircut he received over the weekend in honor of the Cincinnati Bengals.
His barber, Chris Campbell of the B Street barbershop Razor Sharp, cut Bengal stripes on the sides of Reader’s head and a large capital B on the back to resemble the team’s helmet, and on Sunday, he colored his head and scalp to match for the game. The colors were washed out for school on Monday, according to his parents, but he barely got off his bicycle at Garfield when he was sent to his principal’s office.
Because it’s a discipline issue, school officials would not talk about it, but confirmed the suspension was for violating the school’s code of conduct, which prohibits “unnaturally colored hair, extreme/distracting makeup, haircuts and hairstyles.”
The code of conduct is reviewed and revised every year, said assistant superintendent Kathy Leist, who said a suspension “would be a building-level decision based on the code of conduct.”
Reader’s parents, Tina Wanamaker and James Reader, said they were aware of the rule, but didn’t think Dustin’s cut was out of line.
“He’s had designs on his head before and no one said anything,” said Wanamaker. Previously, he’d had a rose, a spiral and the word “LOST” carved into his hair. On the occasion of the “LOST” cut, he was told by the school to fix it, but he didn’t get in trouble, they said.
“This is a way for him to express pride in the Bengals’ putting up a winning season,” said his father. “It’s not racist, not drug-related, not gang-related or anything like that. It’s about football.”
The barber, too, is taken aback.
“I’ve put multiple designs in kids’ heads that go to different Hamilton city schools and never has anyone come back to me and said they needed it cut out because they were being harassed in school,” Campbell said.
The in-school suspension, which means that Dustin is in attendance and doing his work but remains in an isolated area away from other students, will remain in effect until the hair either grows out or he gets a different cut, school officials said, but the Readers are sticking to their guns. “I’m behind him 100 percent,” said his father.
“We’re not going to fix it,” his mother said. “He’s still going to school and I’m proud of him for that.”

One Response

  1. tryacid

    Never heard of an “in-school” suspension before. The school pretty much wants their share of money and could care less if the kid learns anything while being isolated.

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