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Instead of punishing hat-wearing student for breaking campus rules, principal helps fix student's 'bad' haircut

2 years 6 months 3 weeks ago Friday, February 26 2021 Feb 26, 2021 February 26, 2021 9:25 AM February 26, 2021 in News
Source: CNN
In February of 2021, a middle school principal in Indiana, Jason Smith, learned that a male student who broke campus rules by wearing a hat, did so to cover a "bad" haircut. So, Smith decided to help the student re-cut his hair instead of suspending him for breaking the rules. Photo: Facebook/Lewis Speaks Sr.

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - When an Indiana middle school student broke the rules by wearing a hat on campus, the principal had pity on the student after learning that the youth was using the hat to cover what he felt was an embarrassingly bad haircut.

According to CNN, the principal then went the extra mile and took it upon himself to fix the boy's haircut.

The kind principal is Jason Smith of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Indianapolis, and the student is Anthony Moore. 

CNN reports that Moore was wearing a hat, which is against the school's dress code. After the student spoke with a school dean for about 30 minutes, Smith was asked to step in.

"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 said. "And he explained that his parents took him to get a haircut and he didn't like the results."

Smith said he and the dean thought his hair looked fine. "But you know he's a 13 [or] 14-year-old kid, and we know social acceptance is more important than adult acceptance," he said.

"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?'" Smith said. "He hesitated but then he said yes."

So, Smith braved the snow and drove back home to get his clippers. He then brought the bad-haircut-saving clippers to his office to line Moore's head up while his parents were called for consent to touch up his hair.

Tawanda Johnson, Moore's mom, said she thought the gesture was wonderful.

"He (Smith) handled it very well to keep him from getting in trouble at school," she said. "I'm just glad that he was able to handle that without ... being put in in-school suspension."

"He didn't say straight out, but I feel like he didn't want to be laughed at," Smith said. "The barbershop and hair cuts 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 said.

Smith made sure to check on Moore throughout the day, and found that he was learning and didn't have his hat on after the touch-up, CNN reports.

"All behavior is communication and when a student is struggling, we need to ask ourselves what happened to this child instead of what's wrong with the child," Smith said. "What need is the child trying to get met and really, the future of urban education rests on that question."

Smith said the consequence for not abiding by the dress code typically would have been in-school suspension or being picked up by a parent, which, Smith said, "would have prevented him from being in front of a classroom teacher and giving him the education he deserves, so it really worked out well."

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