A mother says she is furious over an incident involving her son at Hico High School this week.
Amy Martin said a teacher cut her 16-year-old’s hair without permission Tuesday at the direction of Principal Shelli Stegall.
“My son was taken to the special education building where a teacher chopped off his bangs,” Martin said. “They were cut straight across. It reminded me of Jim Carrey’s haircut in Dumb and Dumber.”
Martin said the school never asked permission to cut her son’s hair, which it said was too long and violated the district’s “code of conduct.”
Her son Lane Kiesling is a high school junior.
Martin said she learned about the haircut when he came home from school on Tuesday.
“He ran straight to his room and slammed the door when he got home,” she said. “I went to check on him and was shocked by what I saw. He was crying, then I started crying.”
Martin and her son admit that his hair had grown too long, but said she didn’t have the money to get a haircut.
Martin said she has a slew of health issues and is currently unemployed.
“Money is tight right now,” she said.
Kiesling said no one asked his permission either to cut his hair and was shocked when the teacher lobbed off his bangs using “school scissors,” he described as something you would find in “a craft store.”
"I wasn't trying to break any rules,” he said. “I worked Saturday to get money for a haircut. I don't understand why they didn't just send me home. I don't want to go back to school or go out at all. The kids made fun of me."
Martin says she called Stegall immediately after learning what happened.
“I was livid and lost my temper for sure,” Martin said. “But (Stegall) tried to blame Lane for the bad haircut. She said he was looking down.”
She said Stegall eventually admitted that the haircut was “bad” and took him to a local barber after school on Tuesday to have it fixed.
The E-T called Stegall’s office Thursday and followed up with an email seeking comment about the incident.
Stegall never returned the call, but Hico ISD Superintendent Jon Hartgraves issued a statement.
“As part of our commitment to provide a safe and secure learning environment, Hico ISD has a student code of conduct and student handbook that is comprehensive. Student expectations are shared at the beginning of every school year,” he wrote. “We also ask parents to sign off on our procedures which are based on community values. We encourage parents to be involved in decision-making processes, share how they feel about district operations and to share any concerns with their child's principal. Ultimately, our priority is to educate and support the well-being of every student in Hico ISD. The district will make no further comment on student matters.”
Martin said she believes her son’s rights have been violated and called the Hico Police Department three times to file a complaint.
After posting about the situation on Facebook, Hico Police Chief Ronnie Ashmore came to her home Thursday morning.
“He was very apologetic,” she said. “He had no idea about this situation and couldn’t believe I had called the department three times before anyone responded. I gave him a statement and we will see what happens.”
The E-T reached out to Stephenville ISD Superintendent Matt Underwood to ask if its teachers are allowed to cut a student’s hair.
“The administration would never support something like that,” Underwood said.
After posting the incident to social media, Martin has received a mixed response from members of the community.
“I’ve gotten a lot of messages from people who don’t know anything about the situation. They have only heard the story second-hand and think I am being dramatic,” she said. “But I have also received a lot of support.”
The post on Martin’s Facebook post had received 315 shares as of Thursday afternoon and 355 comments.
“My husband is a high school teacher and was shocked by this situation, saying that under no circumstance should this have happened,” one person wrote. “And... Yes, hair grows back. Bruises fade too. That argument is highly flawed.”
Another wrote, “Should’ve never been done, suspension or sent home, yes, but physical action NO!”
Meanwhile, Martin says she has contacted an attorney and is weighing her options.
“It’s not that we disagree with the rules, but there was a better way to handle this,” she said. “My son has been traumatized. This is a lot for a kid to deal with. He wants to change schools.”