A bone-headed move
Caprock Academy just learned the hard way that blindly enforcing the rules can sometimes create more problems than the rules were intended to prevent.
By now, you’ve likely heard the story of Kamryn Renfro, a third-grade student at Caprock Academy who shaved her head in support of a friend who’s battling a rare form of childhood cancer. The friend, Delaney Clements, has undergone chemotherapy, which caused her hair to fall out.
Renfro wasn’t allowed in the classroom on Monday because she had violated the charter school’s dress code, which prohibits shaved heads. She was allowed to return to school on Tuesday amid a swirling controversy.
The story went viral, prompting waves of criticism on social media. The irony is that the school’s policy was created “to promote safety, uniformity and a non-distracting environment for the school’s students.” But the uproar over enforcement of the policy created such a distraction that the school’s board of directors decided to meet Tuesday night to consider making an exception. The board voted 3-1 to grant Renfro an exemption.
The policy already included the possibility of exceptions under “exigent and extraordinary circumstances.” We think the bravery and loyalty of a young girl showing compassionate support for a gravely sick friend qualifies as extraordinary circumstances. In fact, the school’s vision and mission statements both make reference to developing strong character in students, something Renfro exhibited in spades. Administrators should have celebrated the girl’s altruism as an affirmation that they’re doing something right at Caprock.
Instead, they took a hardline stance and created a public relations nightmare.
The episode serves as a reminder that even for professional educators, sometimes experience is the best teacher.