Union Grove Kindergartner Facing Punishment For Hair Length - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/28/07-Union Grove

Union Grove Kindergartner Facing Punishment For Hair Length

He sounds like a 5-year-old and certainly plays like one.

But it's what you see on little John Michael from behind that's bringing a hot button issue to the forefront, and leaving his parents "shocked" and "outraged."

On his first day of school Monday, they say the Union Grove Elementary principal called to tell them the kindergartner's hair was too long and violated the school district's code.

"I can understand the clear back pack and dress code that's for the safety of the other children. But justify his hair! It wasn't different colors, it wasn't punked out, it's just long," says John Michael's mom Christy.

If John Michael's hair doesn't make the cut by next Tuesday, he'll be put him in in-school suspension.

His father Tracy says, "They're going to take him, move him across campus, put him in a building by himself with no other children."

"It's horrifying," says Christy about the thought of her son being in in-school suspension. "It's upsetting because he does like school. He enjoys it he couldn't wait for school to start this morning."

In the student handbook it does state that male students cannot wear their hair below the collar.

But John Michael's parents say the punishment of in-school suspension is just too harsh. KLTV 7 addressed that with Union Grove Independent School District.

Superintendent Brian Gray says, "I can understand the issues [about the child's age] and it's a difficult situation.  And if we allowed every person to dictate a punishment for whatever the infraction then we would have chaos."

But the Caviness say the code is flawed, knowing that little girls can wear their hair this way without penalty.

And just like any little boy, John Michael wants to look just like his father who also wears a long pony tail.  But the idea of keeping his pony tail might be short-lived.

John Michael's parents are planning to take their grievance before the school board, who meets next month.

We want to know what you think. Union Grove is not the only school district that has a policy like this in place and there are others like Tyler and Longview ISD's that don't.

So our viewer poll question: Should east Texas school districts be allowed to set a policy for hair length for male students?

You can answer that question on our homepage at www.kltv.com.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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