When middle schooler refuses to take off his hat covering a bad haircut, principal opts not to suspend him and fixes the haircut himselfFebruary 26, 2021
An Indiana principal helped fix a teenager’s bad haircut rather than giving him an in-school suspension when the child wouldn’t take off his hat inside the school building.
What are the details?
On Friday, CNN reported that Jason Smith, principal at Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Indianapolis, took student Anthony Moore under his wing when he was feeling insecure about a bad haircut.
The teen showed up at school last week wearing a hat, which is against the school’s dress code, and refused to take it off despite administrators’ requests.
Anthony was likely nervous by the time he made it to Smith’s office, but Smith was apparently waiting with a good-natured disposition and an insistence on solving the issue in a positive manner.
“I sat across from him and asked, ‘What’s wrong? Why are you being defiant, why are you refusing to take your hat off? It’s a pretty simple request,'” Smith recalled. “And he explained that his parents took him to get a haircut and he didn’t like the results.”
Smith said he told Anthony that his hair looked just fine, but said he understood the struggle of a young boy who feels insecure about his hair.
“[Y]ou know he’s a 13 [or] 14-year-old kid, and we know social acceptance is more important than adult acceptance,” he explained. “I told him, ‘Look, I’ve been cutting hair since I was your age,’ and I showed him pictures of my son’s haircuts that I did and some of me cutting hair in college. And I said, ‘If I run home and get my clippers and fix your line, will you go back to class?’ He hesitated but then he said ‘yes.'”
Instead of penalizing student sent to school office, principal offers thoughtful solution
Good to his word, Smith left the school and drove home to grab his clippers. When he arrived back at the school, he trimmed up Anthony’s hair after his parents consented to the cut.
“He didn’t say straight out, but I feel like he didn’t want to be laughed at,” Smith said. “The barbershop and haircuts as black males is very important in the community and looking your best and being sharp — it’s just a cultural aspect. Just from my being a black male myself and coming through that culture and, you know, I really think girls matter at that age, which [means] appearance then could matter. He was scared he was going to be laughed at and we were pretty sure no one would notice, but he was looking through his lens.”
Smith added that behavior is best modified through communication.
“[W]hen a student is struggling, we need to ask ourselves what happened to this child instead of what’s wrong with the child,” he said. “What need is the child trying to get met, and really, the future of urban education rests on that question.”
In a statement, Anthony’s mother, Tawanda Johnson, said, “[Smith] handled it very well to keep him from getting in trouble at school. I’m just glad that he was able to handle that without … being put in in-school suspension.”