Colorado Girl Shaves Head In Solidarity With Friend In Chemotherapy . . . School Suspends Girl For Violating Dress Code

logoIn what has become the new normal for teachers and administrators, we have yet another case of a suspension based on a thoughtless and heartless application of a school rule. The latest outrage comes from Caprock Academy in Grand Junction where Kamryn Campbell was suspended when she showed up at school with a shaved head. The teachers and administrator said that a shaved head violated the hair code of the school but she explained that she shaved off her hair to support a friend battling cancer. The school basically said “that’s nice” and suspended her.

Kamryn’s good friend Delaney, 11, has lost her hair to chemotherapy due to her neuroblastoma and Kamryn did an extraordinary thing in shaving off her own hair. It is the type of sacrifice that shows tremendous humanity and maturity and was met by the complete absence of those traits in her teachers and administrators.

What is astonishing is not simply that some teacher reported the girl and administrators punished the girl, but the board of directors thinks that this was a justified action. Catherine Norton-Breman, president and Chair of the academy’s board of directors, insisted that the dress code “was created to promote safety, uniformity, and a non-distracting environment for the school’s students. Under this policy, shaved heads are not permitted.” There is no statement of outrage or disgust from the board about the treatment of this noble child. Until I read Breman’s comment, I thought that this was a case where someone needs to be fired. Now it appears that it is a far greater and endemic problem in this school. I cannot imagine putting one of my children in the care of such people, but I would remove any child from the school after reading this story. (To make matters worse, Norton-Breman is a lawyer who is President and General Counsel of Allen Incorporated, an asset management company).

We have previously followed the suspensions and discipline of students under zero tolerance policies that are used by teachers to justify zero judgment or responsibility. I have long criticized zero tolerance policies that have led to suspensions and arrests of children (here and here, here and here and here and here). Here is a prior column on the subject (and here).Children have been suspended or expelled for drawing stick figures or wearing military hats or bringing Legos shaped like guns or even having Danish in the shape of a gun. Despite the public outcry over the completely irrational and abusive application of zero tolerance rules, administrators and teachers continue to apply them blindly. If you do not have to exercise judgment, you can never been blamed for any failure. Conversely, even when the public outcry results in a reversals, teachers and administrators never seem punished with the same vigor for showing no judgment or logic in punishing a child.

It the mission statement for the school, families are told:

Character is more than an adornment of a classical education; it is its conditio sine qua non. It is only fitting, therefore, that the mission of our school is to hold everyone to high academic and ethical standards. . . . Any time we transcend the status quo, we have to seek out a certain amount of discomfort. The removal of ignorance from our minds requires effort. . . . we are all working for the benefit of your child’s intellectual and moral growth. . . . Our students delight in being challenged, they rise to the tasks we give them, and they astound themselves, their parents, and us with their eloquence, their learning, and, more often than not, with a maturity that is beyond their peers.

Of course, Kamryn showed amazing character and ethics in her action and was punished for it. She is the mature figure in this story. The only accomplishment from this mission statement is achieving that level of discomfort for most of us.

Source: USA Today

51 thoughts on “Colorado Girl Shaves Head In Solidarity With Friend In Chemotherapy . . . School Suspends Girl For Violating Dress Code”

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  2. And unfortunately…all this viral publicity did was draw negative attention to a fantastic school…. Rather than positive, loving, healing energy to a very sick little girl…. #focusyourthoughts

  3. Dislike…. I am a parent of a Caprock Child and an Oncology nurse… all parts of both sides are not represented here… Gets your facts straight first. Little girl asked parents first and they told her no – because of dress code ( get permission first, wait til summer break, other ways to show support for friends with cancer)… Girl went to sleepover and lied to friends parents and shaved head anyways…. School suspended for 2 days until board meeting to waive policy could be held. Policy waived for this specific case…. While her actions were brave, courageous and commendable…. She broke the rules and lied. We put our children in a charter school with a classical education and strict policy for a reason… I respect what she did for her friend and how school handled the situation mutually… A few lessons available to be learned by all… Especially those who should get facts straight first and mind their own business first.

  4. The poor child has cancer & the whole conversation is about the child without cancer – grow up !!

  5. Another interesting case:

    “Teen reaches $70,000 settlement with school”

    Mar 26th 2014 5:39PM

    http://www.aol.com/article/2014/03/26/teen-reaches-70-000-settlement-with-school/20857527/?icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl12|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D458126

    “A Minnesota teen won $70,000 in a settlement with her school over one of her Facebook posts. Back in 2011, 11-year-old Riley Stratton posted a message on her Facebook saying she hated one of her school’s hall monitors. The Minnewaska School District slapped her with an in-school suspension.

    After a parent complained about a sexual message that Riley sent to their son’s Facebook, the school demanded her Facebook info and went through her account: an action her lawyer calls unconstitutional.”

  6. Colorado is the state where I was imprisoned for over 4 months with no criminal charge or bail hearing for suing government officials of Steamboat Springs for letting my adjoining neighbor Kevin Bennett, the convicted felon who was president of the city council, build 2 extra buildings that violated the zoning. I recently studied his property taxes (701 Princeton Ave, Routt County) and they don’t appear to have gone up when he increased the volume of the buildings.

  7. I am not obviously a political scientist but in my mind these zero-tolerance issues are more authoritarian than left or right wing.

    One scale of political alignment that I am familar with is graphed like this:

    Authoritarian (social scale)
    Left –+–Right (economic scale)
    Libertarian (social scale)

    Where L / R is the X Axis and Auth / Liber is the Y

    The Authoritarian / Libertarian has fascism at the top and arnarcism at the bottom.

    Left / right has collectivism & communism on the Left and Neo-Liberalism (european definition of liberalism meaning economic, free trade, open markets and de-regulation) on the Roght.

    In this model Left and right do not necessarily mean freedom vs control. The left / right is economic because societies can exist as Left and have complete authoritarianism and left and libertarian. The contradictory exists with the right .

    So in this model it isn’t necessarily that Left and Right economic policies are predictive of how zero-tolerance a school is. It is more accurately a function of how authortiarian it is. This can be seen in schools that are more tolerant of free speech are actually more libertarian (not to be confused the the Libertarian party necessairly) So essentially a zero-tolerance school is not indicated such by being left or right, it is more Y axis.

  8. nick,
    The higher the education, the more likely the person will be progressive and liberal. That being said, this school is a charter school that is similar to the conservative model of charter schools using state money to give the parents a choice. Of course, in this instance, the choice was a bad one. Are you suggesting that this school board and administration is 80% liberal and progressive? What they did is far from being progressive or liberal. I think your idea that colleges and universities are against ROTC is backwards. When I was in college, ROTC was not looked upon with favor by many students due to its connection to what many saw as an illegal and unnecessary war that eventually killed over 50,000 of our finest and thousands of Vietnamese. While there have been a few colleges that have had some issues with ROTC in recent years, the incidents have been few and far between when compared to the 60’s and 70’s.

  9. RobinH, I can speak quite knowledgably about history textbooks. Besides being just plain horseshit, they are also left wing horseshit. The Depts. of Education in colleges and universities are very left wing. Hell, most colleges are. The have PC speech codes, hate ROTC, etc. This is no revelation. The few conservative schools are outnumbered, 100’s to 1. I can’t believe this is even debatable. Every election polling of K-12 and college profs put them in the 80’s percentile voting Dem.

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