No Mohawks in Kindergarten:

A six-year-old boy has been suspended from a charter school kindergarten in Parma, Ohio, because he has a mohawk. As reported here, school officials concluded that his haircut distracted other students and was "disrpting the educational program" of the school. The boy's mother plans to enroll her son in another school rather than appeal the suspension.

TRex (mail):
When does being original become being deviant? Kudos to the school for teaching a bit of discipline while the boy's young enough to learn.Thumbs down to the mom who must demonstrate her rebel spirit through her ball-of-clay son.
2.27.2008 10:11am
Passing By:
Is this a comment on stupid school administrators, indulgent parenting, or both?
2.27.2008 10:12am
Temp Guest (mail):
I know enough six year old children to reason that the mohawk haircut was not the boy's choice. The mother must be damn close to sociopathic to subject her poor son to this kind of unwanted (by the boy) attention.
2.27.2008 10:15am
Edward Wiest (mail):
FWIW (which may not be much), the school in question was a charter school--which, as to curriculum and conduct, has far greater leeway than "district" schools. The parent in question bought into the rules when she chose to enroll her son there, and should have been aware of the consequences if there was real non-compliance.

This is not the case of the Charlie Brown socks ban in the only middle school available to the parent in California. Unless there is a question of whether Mom got due process (which the news story does place into question on the basis of vague rules) or a Mohawk on a six-year old is protected expression under Tinker (if Tinker remains good law), I don't understand what the fuss is about.
2.27.2008 10:18am
There is a circuit split as to whether hair is protected expression in schools (no joke!).
2.27.2008 10:26am
liberty (mail) (www):

The mother must be damn close to sociopathic to subject her poor son to this kind of unwanted (by the boy) attention.

Hm. I knew a few kids with such haircuts. At least one mohawk. I don't think the mom was sociopathic. Just from an alternative lifestyle crowd.

They didn't get unwanted attention in my school. It was pretty normal.
2.27.2008 10:30am
Elliot Reed (mail):
Suspending a six-year-old over a haircut is boneheaded, but it doesn't seem particularly more so than the thousands of other boneheaded disciplinary decisions school administrators (public, private, and charter) make every day.
2.27.2008 10:34am
There's a 6th Cir Ohio case on point - Gfell v. Rickelman, finding hair regs to be constitutional. Cert was denied in the Tx case - Ferrell v. DISD that it's based on.
2.27.2008 10:36am
Per Son:
I agree with Elliot Reed. A mohawk on a 6-year-old sounds adorable. I bet it would even be more fun with liberty spikes.

Also, I recall some beautiful girls were very distracting to me in school, should they be banned?

Paging Mr. Bergeron, we need you . . .
2.27.2008 10:39am
erics (mail):
Mohawks are now "indulgent" and "sociopathic?" No wonder everyone is scared of Arabs who board airplanes.
2.27.2008 10:45am
Little kids are the ones who do these things because they actually like the look. It's the older ones who try to make statements. I can't tell you all the crazy hairstyles my brother had, back when he still had hair.
2.27.2008 10:45am
PW: Henry Prospect, Blue Magnolia, and blue hair ring a bell?
2.27.2008 10:51am
Smallholder (mail) (www):
Methinks there might be something else at issue here. A kid's interesting haircut would not cause a recurring disruption. Perhaps the Mom was so obnoxious that the administration got tired of dealing with her? Or perhaps the boy has behavioral issues that would be bothersome to document? I can't see any administrator expelling a kid over JUST a haircut.
2.27.2008 10:59am
Thoughtful (mail):
Funny...the amazing part of the story to me is that the mother simply sent the kid to another school (apparently one where children are less easily distracted) than sue. Surely THAT is the amazing part of the story these days...
2.27.2008 11:17am
Adam J:
Smallholder- you did notice the first couple of comments did you not? All the administrator has to be is as equally smallminded as Tempguest, Passing By and TRex. They found the parent to be deviant, indulgent, sociopathic based on how their child's hair was cut.
2.27.2008 11:18am
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
I can see how a mohawk would be distracting in school, but suspending him is a bit much -- just make him wash out the gunk that holds it up and tell his mother not to do it again. Someone with a mohawk that isn't erect just looks like they have a bad haircut -- nothing wrong with that. Now if the mother refuses to comply with that, it's a different matter.
2.27.2008 11:21am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"I know enough six year old children to reason that the mohawk haircut was not the boy's choice."

You must not know very many! :-) Many six-year-olds are know exactly what they like to wear and are very determined to wear it. Whenever you see a six-year-old in kooky clothes, you can be pretty sure that Mom and/or Dad had a pretty rough morning of it and gave up.
2.27.2008 11:23am
Adam J:
Sean O'Hara - read the article slick, there was no no gunk in the hair, it wasn't really even a mohawk.
2.27.2008 11:42am
TRex (mail):
Adam J -I suppose it should be just fine for your six year old to attend class with a group of mini Dennis Rodmans. Maybe set up a tattoo/piercing parlor on the playground. Kid's got a right to freedom of expression without oversight.
2.27.2008 11:48am
Free Henry Prospect! (and Maddox Jolie).
2.27.2008 11:49am
EH (mail):
They found the parent to be deviant, indulgent, sociopathic based on how their child's hair was cut.

Sorry to raise a strawman in reply to bigotry, but this is usually the attitude of sheltered people who are either old or like to think they are. Some people just relish becoming a cranky old fart, call it "wisdom," then race to justify it.

Mohawks are common these days, it isn't 1979 any more. This likely has more to do with the charter school philosophy and being in podunk Ohio. Who says social conservatives just want people to be left alone?
2.27.2008 11:53am
In Ohio:
It's a charter school. She was made aware of the rules when she enrolled him there. If she's not willing to abide by those rules then she is right in moving him to another school. The school did the right thing. They gave her 3 warnings.
2.27.2008 12:00pm
WHOI Jacket:
Unless you live in holdouts in Greenwich Village or the Castro, I think "Mohawks" were among the numerous causalities of Grunge and the early 90s.
2.27.2008 12:08pm
JoshL (mail):

Mohawks are common these days, it isn't 1979 any more. This likely has more to do with the charter school philosophy and being in podunk Ohio. Who says social conservatives just want people to be left alone?

The 80s called: they want their hairstyle back. Unless there's an insidious infestation of mohawks sweeping Eastward that I haven't heard of yet, the last time mohawks were truly common is probably when this child's parents were in high school (assuming the mother is 35, she was born around 1973 and graduated high school in the early 90s). Moreover, the school has a dress code. Having taught in public school, I can't guarantee that dress codes would help discipline, but if I could force every male student into a shirt and tie, it might go a long way towards solving some of our educational problems.

Sean O'Hara and Adam J- both of you need to look at the picture in the article- there's no gunk, but it's cut into the form of a mohawk. It also appears to have some orange coloring in it, which according to the article is unacceptable at this school.
2.27.2008 12:12pm
Does no one here watch college football? Mohawks were very common last fall.

Any different legalanalysis if this kid is actually a Mohawk Indian?
2.27.2008 12:17pm
Phew! For a moment, I thought a child had been suspended for BEING a Mohawk. THAT would have been a story.
2.27.2008 12:19pm
You think a school administrator wouldn't worry about a haircut? Think again. There's an Alaska State case on this very issue in addition to the Ohio and Texas cases mentioned earlier.

I haven't read the article, but if it's true there was no gunk in the hair to hold it up, what was kid and mom supposed to do? After all, the hair is already cut into a mohawk. Mom can't paste hair back on. She could shave his entire head, but I'm just guessing that folks would find a cueball 6 year old almost as distracting as a Mohawked 6 year old.
2.27.2008 12:28pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It probably would have been okay if they'd used some authentic stiffener. You know. From the days of the real Mohawks. Or, perhaps the Zulus--who did not wear mohawks but did require hair stiffener.
Imagine trying to throw out a kid for being authentic and organic and green and all that.
2.27.2008 12:40pm
kevin r:
This likely has more to do with the charter school philosophy and being in podunk Ohio.

Not sure how Cleveland is "podunk", unless your definition is "everywhere that isn't NYC or LA".
2.27.2008 1:11pm
Adam J:
JoshL- gee thanks Josh for chastising me to look at the picture, but I would have thought that obvious that I did look from when I told Sean there was no gunk in the kid's hair.

In Ohio- It wasn't in the rules, it was an arbitrary decision by an administrator that a "mohawk" was distracting.

TRex - Did you look at the picture, he's hardly "Dennis Rodman". But clearly, you are right, the decision to allow a unique haircut will obviously lead to a slipperly slope where the school rapidly slides into a den of debauchery with body piercing, tattoos and lead to a rampant crime wave.
2.27.2008 1:24pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
Go ahead and click on "dress code"
Its pretty explicit from the get-go what they are aiming at and that deviant (meaning quite literally what deviant means - straying from the norm) attire would not be acceptable.

Its still pretty silly but you can't get mad for repercussions when you have been fairly warned....probably why the woman took her kid to another school instead of fight.
2.27.2008 2:39pm
Pol Mordreth (mail):
Hattio1: according to the article, the mother had been warned last year once, and this year once already. When the child came to school with a fresh cut, he was expelled. I have no problem with a charter school deeming a specific hairstyle disruptive. They gave the parent ample warning that there would be consequences to continuing the problem, and if the childs freedom of expression was that important to her, she should have removed the child from the charter school over the summer and enrolled the child in the regular public school. This whole thing could be used as a good lesson in the external tradeoffs that you need to make ( in this case, follow a slightly stricter rules set to get a better education) but I doubt either the parents or the child will get anything from this except 'these people ar oppressing me!'

2.27.2008 3:02pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I agree with Thoughtful, it is news that Mom didn't litigate.

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.

Is she talking about "Hey, nice haircut Bryan!" during the morning rituals, or kids staring at it all day. (The latter is what happens with, as Per Son said, the beautiful girls. THEY were distracting.)

This smacks of zero tolerance replacing common sense. Kids are going to comment on other kids' appearances. These "We know it when we decide it" open-ended rules really ought to come with safe harbors. Could the kid shave his entire head? Go assymetric? It may be a charter school, but I'd think the gender discrimination rules (which are pretty weak) would apply.

As for "three warnings", if the underlying rule is stupid, it doesn't matter how many times it's repeated.

Doesn't anybody watch cartoons? Avatar, the Last Airbender has a mohawk, or maybe it's just an arrow across the top of his head.

My son just turned 11. He had a much less severe Mohawk a few years back -- 3/8 of an inch hair all over except about 3/4 inch on the centerline. Until a month ago he had a short rat tail queue. Within limits, if the kids express a personal choice, it's theirs to make.
2.27.2008 3:17pm
Adam J:
astrangerwithcandy - Gee, after reading the dress code I couldn't find a single thing that said a mohawk was not in conformity with the code. But then I guess it's a "living, breathing" dress-code, which administrators can freely interpret as they see fit to get what "they are aiming at".
2.27.2008 3:20pm
Martin Grant (mail):
What about if the other students had found a fellow student's Payot distracting? Could the school demand he cut them or suspend him?
2.27.2008 3:25pm
Adam J:
Pol Mordreth - gee, I wonder if you would be saying the same thing if some school administrator, in her infinite wisdom, suddenly decided all kids must wear mohawks or face suspension- for the sake of conformity of course.
2.27.2008 3:25pm
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
I recently cut off two years worth of hair growth down to about and inches worth of hair. I've received numerous comments and compliments on my new 'do. I sure hope I don't get suspended from work.

Hell, when I was 7 or 8, I grew a rat tail as did many other kids in my area. Thank god no one said anything about them. And looking back on it, they are way more disgusting than a mohawk, especially one that is loose.

Could you imagine what would have happened if he'd had a mullet? He'd probably have been expelled from the school district.
2.27.2008 3:54pm
Pol Mordreth (mail):
Adam J:
Actually, if someone wanted to establish a charter school that was aimed at goth kids, and so the dress code was all black, with black eyeliner and black hair dye, and make it mandatory for all students, I would support it. I just wouldn't send my kids there. What you seem to be missing is that this is a charter school. It is parallel to the public system, and attending one is voluntary. You can decide to send your child there for an alternative education path, but you have to follow their specific rules. In my experience with charter schools, (sometimes called magnet schools) the rules are much more strict than the public schools in the district. If you want the different educfation path, then you follow the rules. If you want your 'freedom of expression', then you send your child to the public school or to a private school where the rules are more to your liking. What is so hard about that?

2.27.2008 3:58pm
Pol Mordreth (mail):
wow, spelling.... 'education' even...

2.27.2008 4:00pm
Adam J:
Pol Mordreth - you seem to be missing my point. I meant, what if the school that you currently had your child at, out of the blue, decided to require all children at the school to have a mohawk. The parent here had no forewarning that mohawks were not allowed before enrolling her child, it is not in the rules. An administrator, arbitrarily, decided that a mohawk is "distracting". If an administrator is going to make these decisions, they better have it in the rules so that parents know what they are getting themselves into when they make the decision to enroll their child.
2.27.2008 4:13pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Thanks for the link, stranger.
I went right to the dress code button. V-neck shirts are prohibited, but the kid in the marginal picture is wearing a V-neck shirt.
The last prohibited item is "Any clothing deemed inappropriate by the Principal" -- anything at all.

2.1040 As a school of choice, we believe all children deserve a superior education in a safe,
caring, nurturing environment.

Just not at our safe, caring, nurturing environment.

2.1060 Philosophy ...a strict student dress

Emphasis in the original

2.1200 Policy Regarding Low Performing Children
Constellation Community Schools will make every reasonable effort to close the
achievement gap between its high and low-performing children. 20 U.S.C. §6301(3),
NCLB §1001(3).

And it's easier to make people stupider than to make them smarter.

4.2040 Search and Seizure ... Administrators are authorized to arrange for the use of a breath-test instrument for the
purpose of determining if a Student has consumed an alcoholic beverage. It is not
necessary for the test to determine blood-alcohol level, since the School has established a
zero tolerance for alcohol use.

Does that conflict with
2.1130 Religion in the Schools ... nor shall
instructional activities be permitted to advance or inhibit any particular religion, or
religion generally.

2.1140 School Prayer
Notwithstanding other policies adopted by Constellation Community Schools, the School
shall not prevent a student from participating in or deny a student the ability to participate
in constitutionally protected prayer.

4.3010 Philosophy
Children naturally want to follow rules if adults clearly define the rules and then invite
the child to assume responsibility for his or her behavior.

Still looking for a clearly defined rule about Mohawks.
4.3030 Offenses ... Bringing a weapon or dangerous object to School, or possession of a weapon or
dangerous object at School, in a School vehicle or at a School sponsored activity
or event. A weapon may be a knife (with a blade of any length), or a firearm.
The term “knife” refers to any sharp object including but not limited to: letter
openers, razor knives, ice picks, screw drivers, or, any tool that also has a knife

Now students, bring our your safety pencils and circles of paper. (I shouldn't pick on this school, I've yet to see a weapons policy that doesn't prohibit pencils and scissors.) At least they give fair warning that screw drivers are knives. (Are wrenches forks? A little further we see that slingshots are firearms.)

But I couldn't find anything about Mohawks, any tonsorial code whatsoever, or anything about deviance.
2.27.2008 4:40pm
kevin r:

Not sure how Cleveland is "podunk", unless your definition is "everywhere that isn't NYC or LA".

'Full Cleveland' - As defined by The New York Times (June 20, 2004), an outfit consisting of "a matching white belt and shoes (preferably worn with a powder-blue leisure suit)."
2.27.2008 5:40pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
i hate these types of sentences....
i don't mean to quibble with you but the girl looks like she was wearing a 3 button shirt with the top button open. if that constitutes a v neck in your fashion dictionary, so be it.

look, i said the situation is silly. i just posted the link and said it was pretty clear what type of atmosphere it was. no one is telling adam j his son can't have a mohawk or that he looks silly with his.
2.27.2008 6:49pm
Ziusudra (mail):
Sorry if this has been mentioned in other comments, but TL;DR.

I think removing any and all 'disruptive elements' from the school environment results in adults that are unable focus.

And I don't remember anything in my childhood that would've been disruptive for much more than a day if adults didn't make a big deal out of it.

That said, I had a mohawk in high school.
2.27.2008 9:35pm
D Palmer (mail):
Based on the picture, I wouldn't really call that a mohawk. I have seen a number of marines with a very similar cuts.

I think this is a silly issue in which to draw a line in the sand, but the administrators make the call. They gave the mother 3 warnings to get her son a haircut that was more appropriate (in their view).

She could have let him have whatever haircut he wanted in the summer and then gone more conventional during the school year.

I think the school is being foolish, but so is the mother in choosing a haircut over a school. I don't know anything about the school, but if it is a good one I hope that the mother doesn't regret valuing her son's hair style over his education.
2.28.2008 12:15pm

Dress shoes with navy blue or black shoelaces (tennis or basketball shoes may only be worn during gym and recess, boots may be worn to school in the winter but must be removed during school)

So, they can't even wear white/other coloured shoelaces, because that would be too distracting?

Violations to the uniform requirement include, but are not limited to:

* Any clothing not identified above
* Any clothing with pictures or wording
Not neccessarily anything obscene.Ie. a shirt with a picture of a turtle on it. Or Winnie the Pooh.

* Sweatshirts/sweatpants
* Open toed shoes
* Tennis or basketball shoes
* Jeans

* T-shirts
Such as plain white or coloured tees.

* Jewelry
Pierced ears, watches, friendship bracelets, probably barrettes too. Seems to me the girls have more freedom of choice with regards to uniform (pants, skirt, shorts) and personal appeararance (unless they have a required hairstyle, which I really doubt.)

* Any shirts that expose the shoulders or have a V neck
* Any clothing deemed inappropriate by the Principal
Basically anything at all.

Personally, I prefer the standard: "wear whatever you like as long as it's reasonable/covers you/not offensive to anyone. I doubt anyone would really care if a kid came to school dressed as Batman, as long as they were well behaved.
2.28.2008 12:16pm
Randy R. (mail):
I agree with basically everyone that all of these people acted like idiots. Here's the funny part: In another thread, there is a debate about the legacy of William F. Buckley, who just died. Someone defended his notion that the 'common man' is filled with 'wisdom'

I would love for that person, and for Buckley, to consider this situation and still claim they believe this baloney.
2.28.2008 12:39pm
News reports clearly state that mother herself gave the haircuts. Each time. All posts about the ability to control the 6 year olds decisions are contrary to fact fantasy

Weird haircuts, like wierd clothes, are a way to establish outside status. This is why Amish dress as they do, to emphasize difference. This is why nuns used to dreas as they did, to emphasize difference.

It is a legitimate goal of a school to de-emphasize diference and alienation. It is doubly so for a school that is optional and has dress codes. THe whole point of the dress codes is to demphasize difference and distrction.

If the Mother reported, say, that the estranged father gave the 6 year old the haircuts, I suspect the school would have worked with her. Given the mother's quotes in this morning's paper, I suspect that she was resolutely uncooperative with the school in repeated incidents, some which may not have been hair related.

I have little sympathy to those who want to participate in and get benefits from something they are unwilling to participate in themselves.

- whether it is retirees who move to college towns for the culture and youth, and then complain about sporting events
- whether it it is neighbors who let their dog roam free but complain about everyone else's
- whether they want the benefits of a more structured school but do not themselves wish to participate.

They are all social parasites, perhaps even sociopaths, and deserve little sympathy. They had choices. They picked one. They can pick the other. Either choice is acceptable to me. THey want everyone else to change so they can have both.
2.28.2008 12:40pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
The first day of school the kid's hair was spiked with product. The staff said it wasn't appropriate, so Mom washed it out. Was the warning #1?

If the school is pounding rules, they ought to show the rule that says "Hair must be the same length over the entire head".

If the school is pounding common sense, they ought to show that have hair shaved on the sides but full down the top is particularly more disruptive than being a pretty girl.

Complete uniformity is possible, and may be appropriate such as in a cult or in military basic training. This school doesn't even have a uniform, just a very strict dress code, and its stated reason is not to break the sense of self, but to have a disciplined and decorous environment in which to learn.
2.28.2008 10:12pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Mohawks are common these days, it isn't 1979 any more. This likely has more to do with the charter school philosophy and being in podunk Ohio.
"This is Ohio. If you don't have a brewski in your hand you might as well be wearing a dress. "
2.28.2008 11:07pm