The number-one hit Friday on Google in the entire world for the words “high and tight” came back with a picture of a Bobby Ray Elementary second-grader who is at the center of a major controversy concerning how he wore his hair to school.
With calls coming from all over the country and as far away as England, the high and tight controversy has captured more than its 15 minutes of fame. At Bobby Ray Elementary, that attention is not appreciated as the school has field hundreds of calls critical of Principal Monti Hillis’ handling of the haircut worn by a second-grader, Adam Stinnett. The volume of calls has led to beefed up security at the school, with both county and city officers manning watches there. Security was also upped at Thursday night’s school board meeting where six officers were present, three city officers at the front door and three in the meeting room. Normally, one school resource officer is present for school board meetings. The question of the “haircut heard around the world” was never raised during the board meeting. Director of Schools Bobby Cox, in a press release about the situation, pointed out there is no county policy concerning how students wear their hair to school but that decision is made by each individual school.
The decision of first-year Principal Monti Hillis last week was to call in the boy’s mother, Amy Stinnett and give her the option to change his hair or face suspension. The mother, to be compliant with the order, shaved the youth’s head. However, she took pictures of her son’s military-style haircut right after it was given – the same picture that is now the top hit on Google.
School officials have been advised by council not to comment on the situation although there have been comments, on social media, suggesting the haircut shown in the pictures of the youth was not the same haircut for which Hillis took action. The mother disagrees, saying she took the pictures before shaving the boy’s head. In the area of social media, Warren County Schools has taken down their website due to deluge of hits and comments. Adding to the fuel that’s firing the blaze of outrage is the fact the school was named in honor of Vietnam War hero Bobby Ray. Adam Stinnett was reportedly getting the haircut in support of his older brother who is serving in the military.
To prove her point, Ms. Stinnett has produced an e-mail reportedly sent to her by Principal Hillis on March 11 in which she tries to explain her decision.
The e-mail reads: “Amy, I have tried to reach you by phone and have been unsuccessful. I have the utmost respect for the military and its members. However, we are not a military school and the boy’s haircut is against our rules. Please have it cut immediately so you are in compliance with our rules. Thank you so much for your cooperation.”
In addition to impacts on the school, local businesses have also been impacted. Ashley’s Attic – a local children’s store – has fielded over 20 calls from all around the country. The store’s number has wrongly been posted on a military site that is asking its members to call and voice their displeasure about the Bobby Ray Elementary decision. In one case, Ashley’s Attic owners say one person called back three times, believing they were trying to fool them.