Haircut keeps kindergartener at home

Clark-Shawnee says Mohawk was disruptive in classroom, violated handbook.

Keshia Castle was told her 5-year-old son, Ethan Clos, cannot come back to Reid Elementary School until he gets rid of his Mohawk, a haircut in which the head is shaved on the sides and only a strip of hair is left on top and down the middle of the scalp.

Castle said Ethan thought the haircut was “cool” and his classmates loved it.

“All the little kids were going over and feeling on it and everything,” Castle said.

Officials from Clark-Shawnee Local Schools, however, told Castle her son’s hair caused a disturbance as the teachers in the classroom couldn’t get the students’ attention.

Superintendent Gregg Morris said the hairstyle was a distraction for students and violates district rules.

“Our policy clearly states that any dress or grooming which is disruptive or distracting to the educational process is not acceptable. In this particular case, the student’s hairstyle did provide disruption to the classroom,” Morris said.

Ethan’s suspension comes after Tim Seelig, a volunteer Shawnee High School football coach, was featured in the Springfield News-Sun for sporting a blond Mohawk in 2011 and 2009 to motivate the team.

Asked why Seelig could sport the hairdo and Ethan cannot, Morris said the two situations don’t compare.

“One involved an extra-curricular spirit initiative designed to motivate our kids in the football playoffs … Classrooms were not disrupted. The other poses a disruption to the learning environment as well as violates the student dress code,” Morris.

Ethan’s grandmother, Joyce Wells, said the Mohawk is no different than other popular styles such as “the fade,” a haircut in which the hair is cut bald or close to the scalp on the side and back of the head and hair is left on top.

Wells said she understands the dress code but thinks Ethan’s hair was acceptable.

“I do, because if you look at the Mohawk and if you look at the fade, there’s not much difference except he’s bald on the sides,” Wells said.

Ethan is not the first elementary school student in Ohio to get sent home for sporting a Mohawk.

A 6-year-old student who attended a charter school in the Cleveland suburb of Parma was suspended for wearing the hairdo in 2008. The boy’s suspension garnered widespread for Bryan Ruda and his mother, Michelle Barile.

Ethan missed school Thursday and Friday but will return to class on Monday with a shaved head, Castle said.

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