School Suspended Student Because of Hair

School officials in a charter school suspended a male student based on the length of his hair. J.T. Gaskins, 17, has been out of school for more than a week after the governing board of Madison Academy in Burton ruled Jan. 23 that his hairstyle violates school policy. The school rule supposedly says students hair may not cover their eyes or their face, so they don’t create a distraction in the classroom. As ridiculous a rule as this is, it isn’t too unheard of in school districts, and even less unheard of in charter schools. Students are also usually required to sign papers saying they would oblige to the rule, or they would not be allowed to attend. School officials said last Tuesday that they wanted Gaskins to return to class, as soon as he cuts his hair. His response? “No.”

Gaskins is a leukemia survivor at the age of 17, a burden no child has to go through. His plans were to grow his hair out the required 10 inches, so it may be cut and donated to “Locks of Love”. Locks of Love is an institution that takes donations of hair to make wigs and hairpieces for cancer patients, who had to go through chemotherapy which results in hair loss, among other things. Plante started a petition on Change.org last week asking the school to amend its hair policy for boys and allow them to grow it out for charity. The online petition, addressed to the academy and its school board, had more than 38,500 signatures Tuesday morning, up from just over 1,000 late Friday.

Officials at a Flint-area charter school said Tuesday they want a leukemia survivor who was suspended over the length of his hair to return to classes, and that the teen and his family haven’t been receptive to suggestions for styling his hair differently while he grows it out to donate to cancer patients.

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