TULIA, Texas (AP) – All 7-year-old Dallas Saenz wants to do is express his personality, but school officials in this Panhandle town have countered that the first-grader’s Mohawk hairdo is disruptive.
Highland Elementary officials sent Dallas home March 10, the day before spring break, because of the spiky cut. When classes resumed March 20, Dallas had tamed the Mohawk by combing it down.
“They laughed at me,” he said.
The next day his parents allowed him to go to school with the spiked styling, but he was again ordered home.
Tulia Superintendent Ken Miller said Dallas could return to school when his hairdo is acceptable.
“If it’s no distraction, it’s no problem,” Miller said.
Dallas has been home since March 21 because his mother, Toni Ramirez, said she understood he can’t return until his hair grows out.
Dallas’ parents said they’ve gotten two citations, each with a $300 fine, for “disrupting classes.” Their son could face truancy charges, and he could be held back a grade if he misses more than 21 days, they said.
Ramirez and husband Ricky Saenz said they are willing to face all of that to protect their children’s rights to express themselves.
“Everybody’s different,” Ramirez said. “He’s not hurting anybody.”
Miller said the solution is easy for Dallas’ parents. Tulia’s dress code states: “Hair should be neat, clean and well-groomed. Style or color should not be extreme to the point of creating a distraction.”
The boy’s porcupine-like cut caused a distraction, principal Johnny Lara said.
“All the students were commenting and going on about the hairstyle,” Lara said. “It was very visible.”