Family says school’s no-beard policy for graduation ‘antiquated’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Shawnee senior misses graduation after refusal to shave beard

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A Springfield Twp. family says an antiquated school policy kept their high school senior from walking at graduation.

Shawnee High School’s policy is that students must be clean shaven during the school year and for graduation. But students within the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center are allowed to grow facial hair.

Slade Craig, a Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center student that just graduated from Shawnee High School, said he fully intended to be clean shaven for Sunday’s graduation ceremony.

But when he showed up for the graduation breakfast and practice with facial hair, high school officials said he wouldn’t be able to participate in the rehearsal unless he shaved at that moment in the school bathroom.

“I woke up for the morning of graduation, and I was excited to walk with my class,” Craig said. “I fully intended to shave after practice and breakfast. But I was told I had to sit at the back of the class and walk last because I did not shave at the practice.”

There were 15 male students given two-blade disposable razors during graduation practice and told to shave.

“I didn’t want to let them be able to alienate me from the rest of my class and humiliate me by making me walk at the end,” said Craig, who ultimately decided not to walk at graduation. “I know graduation is formal and I understood that, but I wasn’t going to have to walk at the end of my class.”

Linda Craig, Slade’s mother, said her son has a 4.0 grade-point average, is a member of National Honor Society and clocked more than 500 hours of community service.

“Facial hair should not have anything to do with graduation,” she said. “It should be about the students and what they’ve worked so hard to achieve.”

A district spokesperson said the school had a meeting and sent out notes in April that parents needed to sign. The district said it held a community forum about the dress code in 2014 and community members didn’t want to change it.

But Linda Craig says her family didn’t know the policy applied to the graduation practice.

“My frustration is my son did not know going to practice that he had to shave,” Linda Craig said. “He’s a smart kid and he’s not one that’s looking to cause trouble or be a rebel. He honestly did not know.”

Linda Craig said when Slade’s brother graduated in 2013, he had not shaved before breakfast and practice and was able to shave afterward.

“It’s very antiquated,” Linda Craig said.