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4-Year-Old Boy Kicked Out of Pre-K Over Long Hair

catholic schools

Christian school mandates haircut

4-year-old Jack Szablewski was recently barred from attending Pre-K at his New Jersey parochial school because his hair was deemed too long.

Jack’s parents are especially outraged over the school’s decision because Jack had been growing his hair in honor of his grandfather, who died of lung cancer. The boy was planning to donate hair so it could be used in wigs for kids who lost their own hair because of cancer treatments, according to NBC News’ “Today Show.”

“That’s Christian? That’s Catholic?” Jack’s mother Renee Szablewski asked during a telephone interview with TODAYshow.com earlier this week.

It sounds appalling, but the case isn’t so clear cut.

Szablewski said that she informed the school, St. Dominic in Brick, New Jersey, about Jack’s hair-growing plan when she first enrolled him. They said it was fine as long as he cut his hair before entering kindergarten.

But they seem to have changed the rules mid-game. Jack isn’t slated to start kindergarten until September 2011, but the school changed its policy last summer saying that pre-K boys must now keep their hair short. School officials gave Jack’s parents until October 1st to cut Jack’s hair.

Jack’s mother said she was prepared to do that on Sept. 30, when a storm prevented them from making it to the salon.

When they showed up at St. Dominic on October 1st, the teacher wouldn’t let the boy in the school, according to Szablewski. “He didn’t do anything wrong, and he’s the victim here,” she said.

“This child has done nothing wrong,” the Diocese of Trenton, which runs St. Dominic’s, aid in a statement. “This matter is between the parent and the school, and the partnership between the two entities that is critical to a healthy and successful educational experience at St. Dominic School.”

Of course, I feel awful about this boy’s situation, but it sounds as if his mother is not making things easier on him. She reportedly invited the media to cover his hair cut at the salon, which makes me wonder whether the whole thing isn’t just a publicity stunt. Blaming it on the rain is a pretty lame excuse!

If the family’s true intentions were to donate the hair, why couldn’t she have cut her son’s hair at home without any press present?

She has said that even if she works things out with the school, she is not sure she wants to send Jack back since she is worried about repercussions. Apparently, online, people are calling the boy “Fabio.”

“His name is Jack, not Fabio,” Renee Szablewski said. “This is not about Jack’s hair. It’s about the [school]. I honestly feel they are not worthy to have us there.”

If a public school had this rule, I’d be up in arms. But when you sign up for a private or parochial school, you are agreeing to play by their rules and follow their guidelines.

What do you think? Was the school out of line here or were the parents?

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photo: MSNBC.com

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