A woman who allowed her son to cut his hair in a military style says she was threatened with his suspension from Bobby Ray Memorial Elementary.
“His older brother is in the military and he wanted to show his love and support for his brother by cutting his hair in what’s called a ‘high and tight.’ It’s a basic military cut,” said mother Amy Stinnett. “I had seen other students with similar haircuts so I didn’t think anything about it.”
Stinnett says she cut his hair last weekend and her son went to school Monday, March 9, and Tuesday, March 10, before she was called into the principal’s office Wednesday.
“I was told he couldn’t have his hair cut like that because it was distracting to the other students,” said Stinnett. “To keep him from being suspended, I had to shave his head. How is him having a shaved head less of a distraction than him having a high and tight haircut? I don’t understand that.”
A high and tight is a very popular military cut. The haircut itself is simple as the sides and back are clipped very short while a little bit of length is left at the top.
What bothers her the most, says Stinnett, is the school is named after David R. “Bobby” Ray, who was only 24 years old when he died in Vietnam, and the gym is dedicated to Jeremy Brown, who was only 20 years old when he was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
“I was told it wasn’t a military school,” she said. “Well, it might not be, but the school and the gym are named after individuals who died serving their country. Why is it wrong to have a military haircut?”
According to the school’s dress code, “No mohawk haircuts or other extreme cuts” are allowed.
Bobby Ray principal Monti Hillis says several students over the course of the year have been in violation of the school’s code and each has been addressed.
“Our school rules say no mohawks,” said Hillis. “She (Stinnett) did tell me that it was a military cut and it did look similar. We had a discussion and we talked that some soldiers also had burrs but that mohawks or any cuts that might be distracting to students were not allowed and that any students that had cuts similar to that had been addressed. They had all gotten haircuts to rectify the situation.”
Her son’s hair was so short that shaving his head was the only remedy, says Stinnett.
“He’s bald now,” she said. “That was all I could do or he would have been suspended. His hair wasn’t a mohawk. It was very short on top. It was a high and tight military cut. My son was trying to show love and support for his brother. You would think a school named after someone in the military would be OK with that.”
Hillis says, “We are very pro-military and respect all of our servicemen and women. I reiterated that with Mrs. Stinnett when she came to visit me. We are just trying to avoid a distraction. We want everyone to get along. We want all the students to be happy here, but we also do have to have some rules as far as keeping order and preventing distractions.”
The dress code, including hairstyle restrictions, was written years ago and Hillis has only been with the school a year.
“These rules, I believe, have been the standard rules for several years. I have been here a year. To my knowledge, we haven’t really had anyone have an issue with them until now. As far as last week, I don’t know of any other children that had a similar cut. We had one come in this morning and he was addressed before the school day even started.”
Students, according to the school’s dress code, who do not comply with code are sent home.