A Middle school principal receives praises after helping a student redress his hair rather than disciplining him for wearing a hat to school.
Jason Smith, the principal at Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Indianapolis, Indiana, was asked to take the bull by the horns after a student refused to remove his hat.
The student, Anthony Moore, had spent 30 minutes with the school’s dean who hadn’t been able to make him take his hat off. It is against the school rules for students to wear hats, hence the need to tell Moore to take his off, but the reason why he wouldn’t do so wasn’t clear until the principal, Jason Smith, stepped in.
As reported by CNN, Smith said, “I sat across from him and asked ‘Why are you being defiant? What exactly is wrong? Why are you refusing to take your hat off? It’s a quite simple request,’
Then he revealed that his parents took him to get a haircut and he didn’t like the results.”
After taking a close look at the haircut, both Smith and the dean thought there was nothing wrong with it. But, on second thought, Smith acknowledged the student was young at the age of 13 or 14, and, at such age, ‘social acceptance is more important than adult acceptance.’
Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School requires students to abide by their specified dress code, and failure to do so typically attracts an in-school suspension or necessitates the student’s parent being called to come pick them up.
Smith understood how this would deter Moore from ‘being the in front of a classroom to acquire the knowledge that he deserves’; therefore, to make him feel better about his supposedly flawed hair, he said to him:
“Look, I’ve been cutting hair since I was your age.”
Smith went on to show him some pictures of himself cutting hair for his mates back in college, as well as pictures of his son’s haircuts. Then, he asked, “If I go home now to get my clippers and fix your line, will you return to class?”
Smith admitted Moore was hesitant at answering but later responded with a ‘Yes’.
Having sealed a deal with him, Smith drove back home in the snow to get his professional clippers and brought them back to the office to get Moore’s hairline back in shape. His parents were also called for consent to touch up his hair.
The mom, Tawanda Johnson, on hearing about the offer, thought it was a really nice gesture from the principal.
“He handled my son’s hair well enough to prevent him from getting into trouble at school,” she said. “I’m just happy that he handled that without… getting an in-school suspension.”
Meanwhile, Smith said he suspected Moore didn’t want to say it straight out but understood that he probably didn’t want to be ridiculed.
“Haircuts and the barbershop are of great importance in the Black community, hence the need for any Back male to look his best and sharp — it’s just a cultural respect,” explained Smith.
“As a black male who has come through the culture, I think girls matter at that age, which makes boys of his age very aware of their appearance. He feared being laughed at and we were sure no one would notice, but he was looking through his lens,” he added.
After the touch-up, Smith checked on him throughout the day and was relieved to see that he was learning without his hat on.
At the end of his briefing to CNN, Smith said, “All behavior can be assessed with simple communication; thus, when a student is struggling, we need not ask what’s wrong with the child, but rather what happened to him. ‘What need is the child trying to meet?’ The future of urban education lies in that question.”