A Tennessee father is calling for consequences after he says his 9-year-old twin sons were unjustly suspended from school and branded as gang members because they had a simple line shaved into their hair.
Paul Edwards told the Columbia Daily Herald that the school’s principal, Connie Brown, on Tuesday called the look a "gang haircut," gave them in-school suspension because of it and told them they couldn't return to school at all until they shaved their heads.
Edwards said it's just a style his sons happen to like and have been sporting since kindergarten.
The district's central office overturned the suspension the following day after Edwards complained, but Edwards told the Herald he wants Brown and Assistant Principal Jan Smith reprimanded for forcing his sons to miss a day of school and deal with the stigma associated with being suspended.
He also wants the matter purged from the boys’ permanent records, the Herald reported.
Brown, Smith and district spokeswoman Sharon Kinnard declined to give the Herald any comment on the incident.
Fourth-Grade Twins Suspended For Same Haircut
COLUMBIA, Tenn. -- Matching hairstyles landed twin boys in the principal's office with matching suspensions in Maury County Tuesday.
"It started with them having a haircut," said Paul Edwards.
Edwards doesn't understand why his boys, Jorden and Jacen, were taken out of class at Randolph Howell Elementary for their hairstyles.
"His line that runs here to here," he said, pointing to the curved line that runs along the left side of his son's head, from the forehead inward.
To Edwards and his sons, the line is a part. To the school it was something different
"The part was considered a gang sign," Edwards said.
Disciplinary paperwork signed by the school's assistant principal states Jorden and Jacen are in violation of the school dress code. As a result, they would have to cut their hair.
Edwards said he was told by the school, "They need to be shaved before we allow them back in school or they will stay in suspension until their hair grows back."
The school dress code states students must not have symbols, numbers, or letters shaved into their haircuts. That's a revision from the old dress code that merely stated students hair can not be unkempt, unclean, or impair vision.
Edwards feels none of that applies to his sons.
He even has pictures to show the boys' haircuts have been the same, with the line, since the boys were toddlers. One of those pictures recently hung on a school wall.
"I think it was a rush to judgment," said Maury County School Board Member Talvin Barner.
Barner thinks the school went too far, and brought the matter to the attention of county school administrators.
"When I showed them the pictures that the father texted me, they all immediately agreed this was a part," he said.
The boys are back in school, but Edwards feels the damage is already done.
"These boys have been punished for something they did not do wrong," he said.
Maury County has a system-wide dress code, but how it is enforced is up the individual school's discretion. Going forward, Edwards would like to see a more uniform enforcement policy. He also wants the suspensions taken off his sons' school records, and the school's principals to be reprimanded.