An 11-year-old elementary school student was suspended for his hair being too long, and told to cut it to the school’s policy length for boys or he would not be allowed back.
Ashton Bodiford was informed by officials at J.B. Nachman Elementary School in Alexandria, Louisiana, on May 5 that he needed to cut his hair to the approved length of three inches on top or chin length in the back or he would face suspension. Bodiford’s choice to grow out his hair came after he decided he wanted to break the Guinness World Record for longest hair and then donate it to children with cancer after reaching the goal.
Angela Brewton, Bodiford’s mother, spoke out against the school’s decision and said they were wrong to halt her son’s education because of how long his hair is.
“They have wronged a child they are supposed to be educating,” Brewton told the Town Talk. “I am so frustrated with this whole situation. It's beyond words to explain how I feel.”
Bodiford, who moved to Alexandria with his parents two years ago, began growing out his hair since before he moved. His mother said despite the fact that he’s likely been breaking the rule since the day he arrived at J.B. Nachman, they were only notified about it in February of this year. The hair policy is reportedly in the school’s dress code.
“I know about following the rules and enforcing the rules, but I'm also wise enough to know when a rule has no place,” Shawn Brewton, Bodiford’s father, said. “I think it goes beyond hair. I think it's about choice."
“(Ashton) has chores. He has rules. He has a curfew,” Angela said. “I'm a very strict mom, but I'm also self-expressive. ... I want my children to express themselves and learn about who they are.” The family said they feel the rule is unequal, as girls at J.B. Nachman don’t have a hair length requirement.
After missing more than 40 days of school, a discipline hearing took place on Thursday of this week to determine whether or not the decision to suspend Bodiford would be upheld. Three Rapides Parish School Board officials voted unanimously to uphold the suspension until the 11-year-old cut his hair.
“We're not happy with the outcome,” Angela said.
Bodiford’s mother launched an online petition on Change.org in an attempt to gain support for her son, which went viral and currently has over 49,000 signatures.
“We were just hoping for a couple hundred,” Bodiford said. “I'm happy about that.”
Though Bodiford has reportedly been completing school work sent home by teachers throughout his suspension, he said his grades have suffered because he isn't able to learn in class.
“I feel mad about this whole thing,” he said. “Why just expel a kid because of the length (of his hair)? I think just the hair policy is dumb."
Photo Credit: thetowntalk.com, change.org