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Rage at KC as students barred over hairstyles

Published:Wednesday | April 27, 2022 | 12:10 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Kingston College students are barred from entering school on Tuesday because of their hairstyles.
Kingston College students are barred from entering school on Tuesday because of their hairstyles.

A parent has threatened legal action against Kingston College (KC) and the Government if her son performs below par in upcoming external exams following the lockout of students in a grooming firestorm on Tuesday.

Her child was among scores of students who were turned away in the morning after their hairstyles were deemed inappropriate for the classroom.

The irate parent, who contacted The Gleaner about 7:30 a.m., said the stance is absurd.

“My child has examinations next week. School just resumed on Monday after the Easter break. Why are they blocking my child and the other boys from their education?” said the mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the child’s privacy.

“This final week is very crucial. They will hear from my lawyers if my child performs poorly. I will take them to court – the ministry and KC.”

Grooming rules are a recurrent cultural flashpoint in Jamaican schools, but hairstyles, in particular, are the source of greatest contention.

Some school leaders argue that a departure from institutional rules creates an atmosphere of chaos and compromises notions of authority, but critics counter that administrators are guilty of micromanagement and mount roadblocks to education.

The education ministry has issued broad guidelines but schools have leeway for their own scope.

Citing repeated education ministry directives that students should not be turned away on account of hairstyles, the parent questioned whether the North Street all-boys’ school had gone rogue.

“I follow rules and nothing is wrong with my son’s hair, and that of the other students I saw this morning. Is it that the principals don’t respect their minister?” she said.

A grade 11 student condemned the action as “foolishness”, adding: “My hair trim and I can’t go inside. If it nuh skull, it’s a problem.”

Several parents returned for their children and demanded an explanation from the principal, Dave Myrie.

Repeated calls to his cell phone by The Gleaner were unsuccessful on Tuesday.

State Minister Alando Terrelonge and Minister without Portfolio Robert Morgan have offered robust criticism of Jamaican headmasters who shut out students out of school for grooming infractions.

Morgan was incensed on Tuesday at the treatment of a disabled student, on crutches, who was among those turned away.

“We complain a lot about ‘the young men pon corner’. Are we saying that your hair is a passport to access education? This doesn’t sit well with me. Unless your black hair fits into a particular form you can’t be educated? The gangs on the corner don’t have a hair requirement,” he said in a tweet.