Harrison Central Enforces Piercing Policy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/17/02

Harrison Central Enforces Piercing Policy

Harrison Central High sent home nearly three dozen students Tuesday morning.

The school began enforcing its new piercing policy.

Many students say it's self expression. But administrators call it a violation of school policy.

Some thirty four students at Harrison Central found out the school is serious about enforcing its new piercing policy. They were handed a discipline slip and sent home with an unexcused absence.

The enforcement comes two weeks after the school board gave unanimous approval to a policy that basically prohibits facial piercing, except on the ear lobes. Administrators say students and parents were given plenty of notice about the new policy and possible consequences for violators.

Some parents and students still have a problem with the controversial policy.

"I got a phone call from the school that said my son was sent home today because he had a tongue ring in his mouth," said an angry LeRoy Dunn.

Dunn says the policy is unfair. His son Andrew was among the students sent home with an unexcused absence and a discipline slip.

"They're so worried about their piercings that they're forgetting the education. You know, send all these kids home. Who cares? That's their philosophy right now. And I just don't agree with it," he explained.

Dunn not only approves of his 15 year old's piercing, he gave it to his son as a Christmas present two years ago.

Andrew Dunn agrees with his father.

"The policy should be reversed. But I don't know if they're going to do that. I mean people they're having people, two of my best friends have quit school already because of it," said the tenth grader.

School superintendent Henry Arledge says although a majority of parents support the policy, it's an issue of safety and responsibility, not popularity.

"We have to take over a lot of social and society issues that we really don't want to. And we try to get by without that, but it just doesn't work that way sometimes," said the superintendent.

Students sent home for violating the piercing policy can return to school once they remove their jewelry. Those who continue to defy the policy face increasing suspensions and possible expulsion.

Andrew remains undecided about the consequences tomorrow might bring.

"I don't know. I just got to figure out what I'm going to do," he said.

His father says the battle against the piercing policy will continue.

"Us as parents should have that right to say if they should have them or not. Not the school board," said Dunn.

Superintendent Arledge says sending students home is something the district takes very seriously.

"We don't want to send those children home. Nobody even wants to go through that. We just want them to come to school to learn, to get their education like everybody is entitled to and should have," he said.

By the way, LeRoy Dunn has another son who attends Harrison Central High. That son is a senior who also has a tongue ring. He decided to remove his, rather than face the consequences.

By Steve Phillips

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