Should hair length be regulated by school dress codes?

4-year-old Taylor Pugh says he's growing his hair out to give to cancer patients. His school says it's not OK and suspended him. (AP)

Four-year-old Taylor Pugh says he's growing his hair out to give to cancer patients. His school says it's not OK and suspended him. (AP)

A 4-year-old boy has been suspended from his pre-K class in Texas since late November because the school says his hair is too long and violates its dress code.

Taylor Pugh has been separated from his class and sent to the library to study with a teacher’s aide since Nov. 24.

The school board did offer a compromise on Monday where the boy could braid his hair and pin it up. But the parents rejected it because the mother says her son likes his long and the braiding would make his scalp bleed according to the Associated Press.

From The New York Times:

“The boy’s parents, Delton Pugh and Elizabeth Taylor, have argued that it is unfair to punish Taylor for his longish locks; it suggests, they say, that the district cares more about appearances than education.”

“ ‘I don’t think it’s right to hold a child down and force him to do something,’ Mr. Pugh, a tattoo artist, told The Associated Press. ‘It’s not hurting him or affecting his education.’ ”

“ ‘It’s a trade-off,’ said one board member, Gary Bingham, an insurance agent, in an interview. ‘Do the parents value his education more than they value a 4-year-old’s decision to make his own grooming choices?’ ”

The little guy says he misses his friends.

The AP story explains more on the dress code:

“According to the district dress code, boys’ hair must be kept out of the eyes and cannot extend below the bottom of earlobes or over the collar of a dress shirt. Fads in hairstyles ‘designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus is not permitted,’ the policy states.”

I personally think the little guy is lot cuter with his hair down. (AP)

I personally think the little guy is lot cuter with his hair down. (AP)

“The district is known for standing tough on its dress code. Last year, a seventh-grader was sent home for wearing black skinny pants. His parents chose to home-school him.”

“On its Web site, the district says its code is in place because ’students who dress and groom themselves neatly, and in an acceptable and appropriate manner, are more likely to become constructive members of the society in which we live.’ ”

“Taylor said her fight is not over. She and her husband are considering taking the district to court or appealing to the State Board of Education.”

” ‘I know that there are a whole set of steps we can take,’ she said.”

OK parents and teachers what do you think: Should a school dress code control the appearance of a child’s hair? How do Georgia public schools with dress codes handle hair?

What should the standards for hair length and appearance be based on? Should boy standards differ from girl standards?

Should the parents agree to the braids? Should they pull their child from the school? Should they fight on? What would you do?

What do you think of the school’s Web site statements?

189 comments Add your comment

shaggy

January 13th, 2010
7:15 am

Yeah, that’s good for the kid.
Worry about what is on the head, instead of what’s inside. That logic works every time. We have some really smart educators and parents these days. NOT!

A

January 13th, 2010
7:20 am

What about some cultures, like Native Americans, that value long hair on men? Honestly, let the kid wear it in a ponytail and integrate him back into the classroom. If the other kids give him a hard time, maybe he’ll ask his parents to cut it. If not, it sounds like they are going to cut it eventually and donate it to Locks of Love, which is a fantastic charity.

mom2alex&max

January 13th, 2010
7:23 am

I’m wondering about the legality of that in a public school. I don’t know anything about that, but I would think there are limits to what they can demand. Maybe I am wrong.

When I went to private school there was not only a uniform, but a strict grooming code as well. Guys could have NO beards, hair could not be below the collar, and girls hair HAD to be put it in pony tails, braids, buns, whatever. No loose hair. And of course, NO make up whatsoever. But that was a private school.

motherjanegoose

January 13th, 2010
7:35 am

First of all, this child is in Pre-K. If the parents do not like the rules then, they can keep him home.
Or, are there not other options in the area?

Does his hair bother me….no, there are other things that do.

Children go to school and they learn to follow rules. We know many adults who do not want to follow any rules and they can grow up to be trouble. There are kids who do not want to follow rules, whose parents send them to military school or they go into the service and they come out as very respectable adults: WHO CAN FOLLOW RULES.

Rules are usually made to make things work. Yes, some are ridiculous.

I am thinking the dress code rules are set to make the school and more productive place to learn and I agree with the second paragraph. There are schools who will not allow students to wear shirts with certain logos or pants that fall around their hips. Some schools have uniforms.

When I was in HS, the kids could smoke in a smoking area outside at the end of the parking lot.
They still tried to smoke in the bathroom and thought no one would notice. Oh yeah!

We, as adults, follow rules:

Our neighborhood has rules about house paint color and the type of mailbox we can have ( among other things) …we knew this when we bought our house 12 years ago…there are also rules at the pool, such as no large floats.

When I fly, there are rules about things I can/cannot take on board….will an 8 ounce hand lotion affect my neighbor, as it is stowed in my suitcase…NO….but the rule is nothing can be 8 ounces.
Same as this child’s hair not affecting others but the rule says NO.

Neal Boortz ( sp) mentioned yesterday that the Dad has several tatoos and piercings ( his absolute right) but perhaps this school is not a good fit for their child. Has anyone seen him?

Dress codes try to keep things calm and the focus on learning.

To me, it is not so much about the dress code but about the parents fighting it. What message is that sending the child? I am SO glad not to have that child in my class! Yes, teachers do think this about kids!

Last week, I spoke with a Kinder teacher about the weather and whether or not they had to go the playground. Some GA schools do not take the kids out if it is below 40 degrees. She told me that she had a parent who is in her class most every day it is BELOW 60 and says, you are not going to the playground are you?” Right…move to Hawaii why don’t ya?

motherjanegoose

January 13th, 2010
7:36 am

Theresa….my comment is gone…can you find it? Maybe it will show up?

MomsRule

January 13th, 2010
7:38 am

So the school has a published dress code but should break the rules for this particular 4 year old? Why? What makes him and his parents so special?

“We want to go to your school but we don’t want to follow your rules.” Why do so many people feel the rules/guidelines shouldn’t apply to them?

Long”ish” hair on a 4 year old boy? That’s the issue this family feels is worthy of their time to battle. Really???

motherjanegoose

January 13th, 2010
7:45 am

What’s with the other kids in the mirror of the top picture…are they siblings with sort hair?

@ momsrule….loved your comment….perhaps my initial post will show up.

Becky

January 13th, 2010
7:52 am

They should make the girls’ cut their hair short, too – if it’s lice they’re worried about.

I’m presuming this is the only logical reason behind the short hair rule at the school;)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 13th, 2010
7:58 am

mjg – I will find it as soon as I can get the kids fed –

Becky — based on the statement from their website that AP pulled I think it’s about kids seeking attention and distracting others with their hair – no mention of lice that I saw –

RJ

January 13th, 2010
8:11 am

Rules are rules. If the parents don’t like it they can transfer him to another school. If they let the hair length slide, what next?

Lisa

January 13th, 2010
8:14 am

They say that the kid is growing his hair for “locks of love.” Doubtful. I’m sure that’s just the parent’s defense, trying to get public opinion on their side.

For the hair to be that long, he would have had to have it growing out well before he had any idea of “locks for love” or anything about cancer patients.

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
8:14 am

Interesting topic Theresa.

This is what leads me to believe that it’s more about trying to “control” the children not to mention prejudicial (in the judgment sense not the racial one) ~ “On its Web site, the district says its code is in place because ’students who dress and groom themselves neatly, and in an acceptable and appropriate manner, are more likely to become constructive members of the society in which we live.” ~ REALLY?? So a 4 yr old, that is empathetic enough to grow out his hair to donate to other kids with Cancer is NOT (or will not be) a productive member of society?? And just for the record, kids go through ALL types of stages and end up being great leaders. In my opinion, trying to make all children conform to one way of thinking and one way of doing things is more likely to create kids who will turn into problem adolescents.

So in short, if it’s a PUBLIC school, then they shouldn’t regulate the length of the hair, whether it’s a boy or a girl. If it’s a private school they have the right to regulate however they choose, as the parent’s have a right to choose not to send their child there
.

JATL

January 13th, 2010
8:18 am

I’m all for school uniforms, but I don’t think hair should be a part of it. Who cares? Personally I think it’s beyond ridiculous for there to be ANY sort of dress code, hair code or anything else other than “dress your child in seasonally appropriate clothing” for preK!

Hi there

January 13th, 2010
8:32 am

As much as we would like to say to the school to stay out of it, they really can’t because parents demand more from our schools than ever before and most schools have gone to the private school dress code format. I feel that it is within the schools rights to determine how long a child’s hair can be, girl or boy. They have given him other options as to how he can wear his hair while at school, so I feel they have done their part to correct the situation. If the parents don’t like it, they need to make other arrangements. Life if full of rules and regulations and what message are they sending their child at such a young age? If you don’t like the rules, complain and make a stink and they will have to change them for you? Sorry, but that’s not the way life works.

Jane

January 13th, 2010
8:33 am

Have you seen the kid’s dad? NASTY!!!

It’s good this is happening for the kid, this may be his one chance to focus on education.

Liz

January 13th, 2010
8:36 am

Poor kid.

His parents aren’t married, dad is a tattoo “artist”, and they think the world should bow down to them. Kid’s got it rough.

motherjanegoose

January 13th, 2010
8:39 am

@ one for each PUBLIC schools do have rules too. Some are crazy and some are not ( to me).

@ Jane….can you find the link to see the Dad?

I am still wondering about the siblings ( ?) in the picture at the top. Their hair is quite short…what is up with that?

mom2boys

January 13th, 2010
8:39 am

I agree completely with MJG. And I think the whole “locks of love” is BS designed to engender sympathy from other parents. That kid probably had no clue about that program until the parents latched on to it in a desperate attempt to sway opinion.

I don’t think it matters whether it’s a public school or a private school. The school is allowed to set some standards even if it’s a public school.

It doesn’t matter what the school’s reasons are — the rules are stated and the parents knew the rules before they enrolled in the school. The parents are sending a terrible message to their children: if we don’t like the rules for something then those rules just don’t apply to us. We do what we want. Good luck to those parents when they have teenagers!

Andrea

January 13th, 2010
8:43 am

I agree with the school board on this one. Any issue, be it t-shirts, slogans, symbols, or long flowing locks, that become a distraction shouldn’t be tolerated. There are many other options (private school) for the parents if they feel they can’t conform to the district rules.

This family, in my humble opinion, has far bigger issues. I am not buying the story that they were growing his hair for charity. While it is a great sentiment, I think that came up after the fact to sway public opinion. This family wants the rules changed to accomodate them and that is just not right. If you don’t like the rules, move your child.

@MJG: your comments were spot on!

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
8:44 am

@Liz ~ Sometimes it’s not about expecting the world to bow down to you.. sometimes it’s about standing up for what you believe in and your individuality. The father being a tattoo artist has nothing to with what kind of upbringing he has nor an indication of what kind of child he will be. A couple I know, the father is a tattoo artist and they have some of the most well mannered, smart and expressive kids you will ever meet. They do not condone misbehavior and are very active in their children’s lives. Just because their life doesn’t reflect yours doesn’t mean they are any less intelligent or caring than you.

oneofeach4me

January 13th, 2010
8:47 am

@MJG ~ I am aware that public schools have rules. I know that some have uniforms, some don’t. And I 100% support uniforms and dress codes. I just don’t think that regulating the LENGTH of hair is of any value. So what then… girls must have long hair since boys must have short? That’s all I am saying. Wasn’t implying that rules are stupid.

YUKI

January 13th, 2010
8:49 am

I agree that they need to follow the rules. Sometimes life is tough….you can’t always get what you want even if you don’t agree with others. I have not seen a picture of the dad but I can only imagine…if they don’t want to comply with the rules of the school then they should make other arrangements. If I decided I wanted to wear jeans to work everyday….my company would not go for that. I chose to work for this company so I must follow their rules. That is the way life works. This seems like a stupid fight to me. The kid can have long hair when he is older. I think very young boys look foolish with really long hair anyway. This little boy is so cute, and would be with short hair as well. The parents need something better to do.

bigswol

January 13th, 2010
8:50 am

Schools, especially in Georgia need to concentrate and getting these kids to graduation. They have a hard time as it is getting good test scores out of the students. Why dump another distracting element on top of what they are dealing with now.

If the kids can do their work and stay out of trouble leave them be. The schools already have a handful with the ones with short hair and have no intention of coming to school to learn.

null

January 13th, 2010
8:51 am

This kid is destined for a life of having jobs where his name is embroidered on his shirt. Good job, idiot parents. Why do you need a license to drive, hunt, fish, cut hair, do taxes, strip, etc…..but any 2 idiots can have a drunken, methed-up night in the backseat of an ‘84 Camaro in the bowling alley parking lot can have a kid whose life they are bound to ruin. I see it every time I go to Wal-Mart and see those barefoot kids with a mullet or rat tail or whatnot…I weep for the future :(

Scoutmamma

January 13th, 2010
8:55 am

Please. I work in a school and we have much bigger issues. Like the kids keeping their pants pulled up, etc. Hair would be much lower on the disciplinary totem pole. However, if it is a written rule – it needs to be enforced.

Bunnie

January 13th, 2010
8:56 am

This mother is a moron looking for attention. First of all, a four year old should not be wearing the pants (hair) in the family. Now his whole life revolves around his hair and HIS MOTHER’S decision to act like a narcissistic, self-righteous prig.

She needs to SHUT UP and cut his hair if she wants him in public school, or home-school him. Private schools won’t put up with this, either.

Be Nice

January 13th, 2010
8:58 am

Why do the other kids in the photo seem to have crewcuts?

Bunnie

January 13th, 2010
8:58 am

PS – and I seriously doubt the Locks of Love thing. That was not mentioned until very recently, and it’s a pathetic and insensitive attempt to cover up wanting to have the world revolve around one woman (the mom).

FCM

January 13th, 2010
9:01 am

“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution ”

Oh sorry I thought we had traveled in the Wayback Machine to the 60s. When are we going to hear the British Envasion and the Beatles are the culprit?

;)

Good Morning All.

Yes, dress codes should be enforced for a reason. They cannot where flops or crocs at our school. Certain shirts. Heck in my HS days (1984) punk/early goth or grunge became popular. One girl showed up with a bright parrot lime mohawk. They told her she had to change it as it was disruptive. She then dyed it hot pink. She also had rings in her nose, lip etc…just think Vortex. Anyway, the finally let her go to an alternative school program (night school). It is over 20 years later and I still remember that girls hair so yeah it was probably disruptive.

It is like I tell my kids “you do not need to agree with the rules, you need to follow them.” Of course I also believe in civil disobedience and other (not litgious) methods of changing the rules :)

FCM

January 13th, 2010
9:01 am

where = wear

JATL

January 13th, 2010
9:02 am

Well, Theresa -my comment is also gone. It will magically appear as soon as you post saying you will look for it, I’m sure!

usually lurking

January 13th, 2010
9:05 am

I don’t have a problem with the hair, but I’m wondering why he’s sitting on the table when it appears that there are perfectly good chairs available.

@MomsRule – how does one decide what issues are worth battling? A lot of positive social change has come about because people questioned rules and did something about it. Personally, I think the hair rule is silly; however, I wouldn’t fight it. But, where do you draw the line between complying with or questioning a rule that is unjust? And, to what extent would you support your child’s questioning of a rule that you personally don’t think is worth fighting but your child does?

Goldilox

January 13th, 2010
9:08 am

“Fads in hairstyles”? Does the district actually have this language in their policy? Where are they – back in the ’60’s? I do, however, agree with the restrictions against baggy pants – they just make you look stupid and trip when you’re running away from the cops.

DAVID

January 13th, 2010
9:11 am

SCHOOL OFFICIALS (with all their advanced degrees) LACK all Common Sense….ZERO TOLERANCE…means not having to make a judgment on individual cases….

Julia

January 13th, 2010
9:12 am

I was taking the boy to school this morning and there was a kid walking out of his apartment building with his head down.. He had that stupid hair cut all the boys want now that do that flippy thing on the side.. I told the boy, that kid needs a hair cut. I do not think the schools enforce the dress code at all – if they did why do half the girls that are standing at the bus stop look like hookers? Their skirts are up to their ya ya’s…

mom2boys

January 13th, 2010
9:15 am

@usuallylurking — you addressed your question to MomsRule, but I am offering an opinion: I would support my child questioning a rule if said child was not 4 and incabable of understanding the history of civil disobedience and precedent-setting power of setting out to change a rule…if the child had a logical and thoughtful argument and a plan…and if the rule was something that could affect society and if the child wasn’t just trying to get around something inconsequential such as the length of his hair.

Becky

January 13th, 2010
9:17 am

I agree that they should follow the rules of the school..What I don’t understand is how people can say the length of your hair ahs to do with learning..As for the parents, the Dad being a tattoo artist doesn’t make him a bad Dad..I have a nephew that owns his own tattoo shop, he has three children (that are very well mannered), owns his own home, and so forth..He is not a bad guy, nor are his children..Just because a erson has tattoos, they aren’t always bad people..

Julia

January 13th, 2010
9:19 am

a 4 year old in my house questioning authority would not fly just saying

Becky

January 13th, 2010
9:23 am

sorry for all of the typos..

tomiswho

January 13th, 2010
9:24 am

Lawsuits on school dress codes have made it all the way to the Supreme Court, and as far as I know have always been found in favor of the school board. However, these suits have been won on the argument that the school board can have a dress code. What these folks need to do is to sue based not on the dress code (a sure loser) but instead to bring a sexual discrimination lawsuit. They can win that one!

cld

January 13th, 2010
9:25 am

Like many others have said, I doubt the Locks of Love story. Sure, there probably are some four-year-olds who are deep enough to think of doing things for others. But growing out their hair for chemo patients? Not likely. As far as how long the hair must have been growing . . . there is a little girl in my son’s daycare class (they’re one and a half) with hair as long as this boy. So it actually may not have taken THAT long. And I have known about Locks of Love for 10 years, so the timetable is possible. Unlikely, but possible.

Personally, I don’t think public schools should dictate hair length. It’s a fine line . . . I don’t think they should allow mohawks and pink hair, but I see no problem (from an instructional and distractional standpoint) with shaggy-haired boys. Would I let my son do it? No. I trim his little toddler hair every time it starts to hang over the tops of his ears. Someone mentioned ethnic groups that value long hair on men – I think there also are some religious groups that do the same. Maybe the suggestion would be that those people attend private schools among their own demographics? I don’t think so. Now, the (white) guy in my college English class who came with frizzy dreadlocks down to his shoulders, and probably never washed his hair the entire semester, had distracting hair. The frat boys who showed up with shaggy hair like this kid? Not so much.

ZachsMom

January 13th, 2010
9:26 am

Take a shower, cut your hair, pull up your pants and learn some manners or you wont be working here.

The school could have a unisex rule…hair longer than the collar must be pulled back and apply it to all. School is like work….I don’t dress in my private life like I do on the job. My place of employment has a dress code mainly for safty reasons.

cld

January 13th, 2010
9:29 am

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating the long hair or the route these parents took. The child isn’t old enough to make these decisions, IMO. I’m just saying, I don’t think the school board is right either.

JMP

January 13th, 2010
9:32 am

Momsrule, mom2boys and Julia’s 9:19 I agree w/your comments, simply put! Now I will take a gander at the dad, if I can find him. However, it does appear that the other children in the background of top photo appear to have neat, little haircuts…hmmmm

TnT's Mom

January 13th, 2010
9:32 am

Yes, they should follow rules. But dont school officials have brains to look at exceptions on a case by case basis? Do they make the girls have short hair? Hair above the collar and ears is a tough rule for public school. My 12 yo son has longish hair similar to this boy, and he is a straight A student. It hasn’t affected his learning.

Is this boy really a distraction in his pre-k class? His hair is clean and combed. I thought he actually looked better with it down than the ponytail bun thing mom did.

Liz

January 13th, 2010
9:32 am

@ MJG – if you click on Theresa’s article where it says: “Here’s background on the story.” The third picture down shows dad in the background. He’s so popular that you can even google image him and get a pic!

Guy

January 13th, 2010
9:35 am

Julia, which bus stop is that?!?!

Sug

January 13th, 2010
9:42 am

Individuality is NOT allowed in government schools. everyone MUST be the exact same.

Julia

January 13th, 2010
9:42 am

Ok really the one with his hair pulled up in the pony tail with it slicked down to his head.. HE LOOKS LIKE A LITTLE GIRL

cld

January 13th, 2010
9:43 am

Julia – at first glance, I thought that photo was of a little girl!