October 1st was a bad hair day, of sorts, for Jack Szablewski. The New Jersey 4-year-old was banned from Pre-kindergarten for having long hair.
When Jack was 16 months old, his grandfather died of lung cancer. His mother, Renee Szablewski, made the decision to grow Jack’s hair and donate it to cancer patients, in honor of her late father.
Jack began pre-K classes at St. Dominic, a parochial school in Brick, N.J. Renee says the school was aware of the hair-growing project and they were on board, as long as Jack’s hair was cut by the time he entered Kindergarten (September 2011). Which is why she was surprised when the school updated its handbook to include pre-K students in the policy mandating that boys keep their hair short and neat. School officials gave Renee until October 1st to bring Jack’s hair into compliance.
Surprised as she was, Renee was all set to comply. On September 30th, she scheduled the haircut at a salon in Hoboken, N.J. and even invited a television crew to film the event. Unfortunately, a storm rolled into the East Coast and those plans were stalled.
Jack showed up to school the next day, October 1st, hair still un-cut. The teachers wouldn’t even let him through the doors.
“This child has done nothing wrong,” a school supervisor said in a statement. “This matter is between the parent and the school, and the partnership between the two entities that is critical to a healthy and successful educational experience at St. Dominic School.”
Jack is still not enrolled in school and his mother fears he won’t be accepted to any catholic school in their area, even once the hair is cut. She maintains that this is all about the donation of Jack’s hair, not defiance of the catholic church.