Josiah Sharpe is missing out on his education and playtime in Summerhill Primary Academy in Tipton because his hair is considered too “extreme” for the school.
But his mother has protested the decision to send her son home, explaining his haircut is styled “neat and smart” while ensuring it covers up his traction alopecia.
The boy, Josiah Sharpe’s mother Danica is upset that Summerhill Primary Academy in Tipton, deemed her five-year-old son’s hairstyle as an “extreme” haircut that goes against the school’s hair policy.
But looking at the handsome young man’s hair, there is little to find anything wrong with it that you don’t see walking down the street.
Furthermore, the mother explains that Josiah has the back and sides of his hair shaved in a ‘skin fade style’, which his mother, Danica, said helps hide his traction alopecia.
Traction alopecia is a form of alopecia, or gradual hair loss, caused primarily by pulling force being applied to the hair. This commonly results from the sufferer frequently wearing their hair in a particularly tight ponytail, pigtails, or braids. It can also occur when tight headwear is used in the same way every day.
Repeated strain on the hair follicles can pull out strands of hair and even damage the follicles. This causes redness, itching, and even pus-producing ulcers or infections.
“I spoke to the teacher about it, I’m a hairdresser,” she said. “I offered to give a presentation, so they can understand, it’s not being rebellious, extreme or fashion, it’s literally how black boys with Afro hair have wore their hair for centuries to look neat. The Head said the policy is not changing and so far has refused to meet with me.”
Kerry Rochester, the school’s headteacher said students are prohibited from wearing “hairstyles that will detract from learning.”
The policy states the hair should be a “satisfactory” length. Until the boy’s hair is cut, he has lost his playtime.
Danica calls the school’s policy “harsh” and e policy was “culturally biased” and she said the school is “dictating a hairstyle that’s not suitable”.
“The hair policy lacks cultural awareness as a grade two haircuts is not fair for Josiah’s type of hair and others from different racial backgrounds,” said Danica who is a hair stylist.
“When he first started there, I did try a grade two haircuts but within three days, it had started to grow out and it looked a total mess.
“In the Afro-Caribbean community, if a boy’s hair is not long and plaited, or put in dreadlocks, we are expected to cut the hair very short for a smart tidy appearance. It’s not a fashion statement, in our culture hair at a grade two or three is regarded outgrown and untidy for a curly/coiled hair type,” she says to Birmingham Live.
“If you put a Caucasian grade two haircut and an Afro-Caribbean grade two haircut side by side, you will get two very different appearance which will become even more evident as it grows.”
“He’s been having this haircut since he was one. The only time the school had said anything about it previously was when he was inreception, andd he had a patch on the back of his head…I’ve explained it all toJosiah, but he’s confused about why he’s being singled out.”
“I’ve told him he can grow his hair out and put it in plaits but he wants to keep it how it is.”
Rochester disagreed that the policy was racist saying it was “inclusive for all children” and it does not “discriminates against an individual child or racial background.”
She continued: The policy states ‘shaved heads or hairstyles that are deemed by the school to be extreme, are not acceptable’ and ‘hair should be no shorter than ‘number two’ length.
“Unfortunately, Josiah’s hair has been styled in line with what we understand to be the ‘skin fade’ style. His hair is tapered around the back and sides to what is known as ‘zero fade’ or ‘bald fade’.