Education

Teacher, principal forced ‘Dumb and Dumber’ haircut on Texas student, mom says

Lane Keisling, 16, a junior at Hico High School, was given a forced haircut by a teacher at the direction of the school principal, his mom says.
Lane Keisling, 16, a junior at Hico High School, was given a forced haircut by a teacher at the direction of the school principal, his mom says. Courtesy

When her 16-year-old son came home from school Tuesday, Lane Keisling’s mom wrote on Facebook, “He is humiliated.”

Amy Martin says Keisling came home in tears Tuesday, with a sloppy haircut forced on him by a teacher at Hico High School and the school principal, Shelli Stegall.

“I could understand a trim to make it so he was within dress code, but she cut his bangs off at a choppy angle,” Martin wrote. She compared the haircut to Jim Carrey’s look in Dumb and Dumber — “but worse.”

Keisling is a junior at Hico High, according to the Stephenville Empire-Tribune. His mom told the newspaper that he was taken to the school’s special education building, and the teacher cut across his bangs at an odd angle, as directed by Stegall.

“The teacher even asked if she was sure” before going through with the cut, Martin wrote on Facebook.

Hico is a town of about 1,300 residents that sits about 80 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Keisling said he was greeted with laughs and jeers when he walked back into his classroom after the forced haircut, according to KXAS.

When asked about the haircut incident, Hico Independent School District superintendent Jon Hartgraves released a statement to McClatchy that did not address or acknowledge Martin’s allegations, but instead referred to the school’s “code of conduct.”

“As part of our commitment to provide a safe and secure learning environment, Hico ISD has a student code of conduct and student handbook that is comprehensive,” Hartgraves’ statement says. “Student expectations are shared at the beginning of every school year. We also ask parents to sign off on our procedures which are based on community values.

“We encourage parents to be involved in decision-making processes, share how they feel about district operations and to share any concerns with their child’s principal. Ultimately, our priority is to educate and support the well-being of every student in Hico ISD. The district will make no further comment on student matters.”

According to the Hico ISD student handbook, “If the principal determines that a student’s grooming or clothing violates the school’s dress code, the student will be given an opportunity to correct the problem at school. If not corrected, the student may be assigned to in-school suspension for the remainder of the day.”

There are no specific regulations on hair length in the school handbook on the district site — just the direction that grooming standards are dealt with at the school principal’s discretion.

It was unclear whether Keisling had been given the choice between the forced haircut and in-school suspension. Hartgraves told McClatchy he would not comment any further than the school district’s statement.

“I know it’s just hair. It grows back,” Martin told KXAS. “But it’s not like she just gave him a haircut. She hurt his self-esteem. His self-image. That’s the problem.”

Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.
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