Texas pre-kindergarten program isolates 4-year-old ‘Tater Tot;’ his hair’s too long

BALCH SPRINGS, Texas — Taylor Pugh has been suspended from pre-kindergarten because he likes his hair a little on the floppy side.

The 4-year-old sat with a teacher’s aide in a suburban Dallas school library Wednesday while his friends played and studied together in a classroom.

“They kicked me out that place,” said Taylor, who prefers the nickname Tater Tot. “I miss my friends.”

Taylor’s locks — long on the front and sides, covering his earlobes and shirt collar — violate the school district’s dress code. He has been punished with in-school suspension since late last month.

His parents say the boy plans to eventually cut his hair and donate it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients. And they are not happy with the district’s rules.

The school district appears “more concerned about his hair than his education,” said Taylor’s father, Delton Pugh. “I don’t think it’s right to hold a child down and force him to do something … when it’s not hurting him or affecting his education.”

Pugh, a tattoo artist, said he used to shave his own head but that his son “made me pinky promise I would let my hair grow long with him.”

The follicle fight came to a head last month when Taylor’s parents received a signed letter from Walter E. Floyd Elementary School‘s principal, threatening to withdraw the boy from school if his hair didn’t comply with district standards.

When Taylor’s parents didn’t budge, their son was suspended.

When the boy returned, his hair was longer than ever. But school officials decided suspension was too harsh and changed the punishment.

“They still have regular classroom work, but in an isolated environment,” Mesquite Independent School District spokesman Ian Halperin said of the modified in-school suspension that Taylor is serving. “We expect students … to adhere to the code of conduct.”

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. Hairstyles “designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus (are) not permitted,” the policy states.

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

On its Web site, the district defends its code, saying “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.”

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8 Responses

  1. I grew up in Mesquite ISD. I went to Floyd Elementary from Kindergarten to 4th grade. Over the years, I noticed that the student handbooks kept getting thicker and more obtrusive. It is to the point now, having been out of school for 10 years and hearing of the repeated nonsense, and having a child about to be school-age, that I have decided to homeschool in a cooperative with several of my neighbors.

    I used to love my school, my school district, and the quality education that I was receiving. I am sad and disappointed in this instance, along with the many others I learned of since I graduated.

  2. My sister grows her hair out long and then gets it cut for wigs for the children with cancer…if this child was growing his hair long just because he likes it that way then I would understand but hasn’t this school ever heard of “THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE”.

  3. This is all getting out of hand! For a school to tell a child and a family how long his hair can be for him to return to school is ridiculous. Are schools not for educating anymore? Now we discriminate hairstyles. I am a Mother of four children and I do not agree with uniforms either. I think as long as the clothes the children are wearing are not obscene then they should not be forced to wear the same thing as everyone else. I think schools are run by Fascists and it is getting completely out of control. This country was established on Freedoms and we are slowly losing sight of that. We are losing sight of what this entire country and government were founded on which is horrible and makes me ashamed to admit I am an American.

  4. I think that this school district is too focused on a childs hair rather than his actual education. The school needs to place their focus on teaching children not forcing a child to become what American society views as the ideal student. The length of a child’s hair does not determine their ability or potential to learn.

  5. Um . . . maybe the school board should read a little something called Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, but more commonly known simply as Title IX, is a United States law enacted on June 23, 1972. The law states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance! You can not give ISS to a boy because his hair is the length of a girls. Do they make all the girls with the same length, and longer, hair pull it back in a ponytail? He is being excluded from his class!! You cant do that! He is lossing the benefits of learning in the same classroom environment as every other boy and girl in that school. I’m surprised they are not doing the same to kids with shaved heads. Why don’t we just make all kids where hair caps to school. That school board is lucky this little boy is not my son. I would already have hired a lawyer!

  6. This is crap, what difference does the length of the boys hair make. I went through the same thing years ago when my parents moved and the new school district had a policy on the length of boys hair. We beat it because there was no length policy for the girls, sexual discrimation, it goes both ways. The school is doing far more damage to the child by seperating him from his friends than anything, teaching double standards.

  7. One more area where a government entity is trying to RULE, CONTROL and FORCE beliefs on AMERICANS. I noticed that the pictures for acceptable
    styles for long hair are for the Black student population.

    The School Board(s) need to concentrate on the best available teaching tools and subjects. They should not have any say in how long a students hair is or how it is worn. IF this was a poor mexican imigrant child, who’s parents could not afford a hair cut, that student would be attending and nothing would be said.

    Get real School Board, and Principal of Walter Floyd Elementary there are more important issues like BUDGET(s) that need addressing not students appearances.

    In 1819 Long hair on boys did not prohibit their learning abailties.

    As a parent who “THANK GOD”, finished with the educational dictatorship of School boards, still feels that schools and the School boards are not funtioning for the better of the school disticts and their students.

    They are the ones that need to be suspended for jepordazing the education of this student and others.

    It is the Dictatorship of School boards that have cause a drop out rate in texas that is neither publicized or reported truthfuly or with any kind of regularity.

    Just like what is going on today in Washington, the
    freedom and rights of the public are being striped away.

  8. This is an outrage!! The school board has no right to blatantly
    infringe on First Amendment Rights. Why is no one doing anything about this. It won’t be long before this nonsense is applied to something else. This needs to stop we need to stop letting other people run our children’s lives as if we have no say so in the matter.
    Not to mention an apology for the Pugh family and the seventh grader)family) who I just read was suspended for wearing “black skinny pants”. They have ostracized these good people that care enough about their children to not let this happen.
    I applaud you. The rights of your children are your own. Keep fighting the good fight. Peace, Love, and Understanding~

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