‘Hair ye, hear ye,’ Education ministry working on grooming policy for schools
As the firestorm continues over the decision by the administrators of the St Andrew-based Hopefield Preparatory School to refuse admission to a three-year-old boy because of how his hair is groomed, Minister of Education Ruel Reid has promised that clear guidelines will be established to govern hairstyles and grooming for all schools.
Reid has accepted that under the current regulations, there is no specific policy by his ministry to deal with the issues.
According to Reid, permanent secretary in the ministry, Dr Maurice Smith, has been tasked to undertake an islandwide consultation with stakeholders on the matter, and to provide him with a feedback by March 2017.
"Our response as a ministry is to formulate a policy that will govern both private and public schools," said Reid.
Dialogue with schools
The education minister added that while he prepares the policy, stakeholders need to dialogue with schools to ensure that the rules that now exist are clear, and "once stakeholders sign off, you are obliged to follow those rules and regulations".
The administrators of Hopefield have argued that the parents of the child were told of the various regulations and well-established and documented rules of the school. According to the administrators, they are confident that the matter has been properly handled.
The issue of the regulations governing hair at schools was brought to the front burner in March when The Gleaner reported that the administrators of the prestigious Kingston College had barred several students from its North Street campus because they were wearing Mohawks and fade hairstyles.
At that time, Dean of Discipline of Kingston College Ainsworth Walker defended the school's decision even though the boys were slated to sit midterm examinations that day.
According to Walker, the rules of the school stipulate that hair must be conventionally styled at one level.