A Middle School Principal Noticed One Of His Students Wouldn't Take Off His Hat In Class, So He Offered To Help Him In The Kindest Way

Instead of disciplining the student, the principal offered a much better solution.

barber cutting little boy's hair RDNE Stock project / Pexels

A middle school principal decided to help one of his students out instead of punishing him after the student refused to take his hat off in class.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Indianapolis, revealed that an eighth-grader at the school had gotten in trouble with his teacher and the dean after he wouldn't abide by the school's policy of not wearing hats in class.


The student revealed he had been wearing a hat because he didn't like his haircut.

The eighth-grader, Anthony Moore, had been refusing to take his hat off in class, despite being told to by his teacher. As a result, Moore was sent to see the school's dean.

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After the dean spent around a half-hour with the young man, Moore was sent to see Principal Smith, where he was asked what was going on that was making him adamant about not taking his hat off.

"I sat across from him and asked, ‘What’s wrong? Why are you being defiant, why are you refusing to take your hat off? It’s a pretty simple request,’” Smith told CNN. “And he explained that his parents took him to get a haircut and he didn’t like the results.”


Both Smith and the dean tried to reassure Moore that his hair didn't look bad at all, but the eighth-grader wasn't convinced. “But you know he’s a 13 [or] 14-year-old kid, and we know social acceptance is more important than adult acceptance,” he continued.

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The principal offered to fix the boy's haircut for him.

Instead of sending Moore home, or putting him in detention for defying the school rules, Smith chose a different approach. He informed the student that he had experience in cutting hair and had a pair of clippers at home to do it.


"I told him, ‘Look, I’ve been cutting hair since I was your age,’ and I showed him pictures of my son’s haircuts that I did and some of me cutting hair in college. And I said, ‘If I run home and get my clippers and fix your line, will you go back to class?’” Smith said. “He hesitated but then he said yes.”

According to the Indianapolis Star, Smith made sure to call Moore's parents to ask permission, and his mother, Tawanda Johnson, agreed. So, with the student and parent's blessing, Smith drove all the way home to get his clippers.

"I came back and lined him up, and he went on to class," Smith explained. "[Cutting hair] ended up being a useful skill."

A photo of Smith giving the student the haircut ended up going viral on social media, but despite all of the attention, Smith revealed he only did it because he understood the meaning of a bad haircut for Black men.


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"He didn’t say straight out, but I feel like he didn’t want to be laughed at,” Smith told CNN. “The barbershop and haircuts as Black males is very important in the community and looking your best and being sharp — it’s just a cultural aspect.”

"Just from my being a Black male myself and coming through that culture and, you know, I really think girls matter at that age, which [means] appearance then could matter. He was scared he was going to be laughed at and we were pretty sure no one would notice, but he was looking through his lens,” he added.


After giving Moore the haircut, Smith even continued to check up on the young man and was happy to know that he kept his hat off for the rest of the day.

"All behavior is communication and when a student is struggling, we need to ask ourselves what happened to this child instead of what's wrong with the child," Smith pointed out. "What need is the child trying to get met and, really, the future of urban education rests on that question."

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Nia Tipton is a Brooklyn-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.