PARMA, Ohio – A kindergarten student with a freshly spiked Mohawk has been suspended from school.
Michelle Barile, the mother of 6-year-old Bryan Ruda, said nothing in the Parma Community School handbook prohibits the haircut, characterized by closely shaved sides with a strip of prominent hair on top. The school said the hair was a distraction for other students.
"I understand they have a dress code. I understand he has a uniform. But this is total discrimination," she said. "They can't tell me how I can cut his hair."
An administrator at the suburban Cleveland charter school first warned Barile last fall that the haircut wasn't acceptable. The school later sent another warning to her reiterating the ban.
Mohawks violate the school's policy on being properly groomed, school Principal Linda Geyer said. Also, the school district's dress code allows school officials to forbid anything that interferes with the conduct of education.
Ruda's hair became a disruption last week when Ruda arrived freshly shorn, Geyer said. Administrators called Barile on Friday telling her to pick Ruda up from school.
"This was his third infraction," Geyer said Tuesday. "We felt that we were being extremely patient."
Rather than request a hearing to appeal the suspension, Barile said she'll enroll him at another school. Changing the hairstyle is not an option, she said.
"It's something that he really likes," Barile said. "When people hear Mohawk, they think it's long, it's spiked, it's crazy looking, and it's really not."