JL Pagano had an interesting post on a school in Galway that suspended a student for having long hair.
You see, the school’s Principal, Mr Gilmore, decided that young David Knott’s hair was too long (the Principal doesn’t have a first name: these people are called Mister at birth).
David, a Leaving Cert student at Dunmore Community School, Galway, was told by the deputy Principal Ms O’Brien (who also lacks a first name, having been called Ms at birth) that he was to cut his hair. Clearly there was some vital educational reason for this, though I haven’t yet been able to find out what it was.
When David didn’t cut his hair, Ms O’Brien confronted him about his girl’s hairstyle, and asked him if he wanted to be a girl.
Ms O’Brien is a professional educator.
Enter Principal Gilmore, who instructed him to to cut his hair by the end of the week or go to another school.
Mr Gilmore is also a professional educator.
David’s mother wrote a letter to Principal
Skinner Gilmore, pointing out that David was in his exam year and saying that he had his mother’s permission to grow his hair.; The letter also requested that the school deal directly with David’s mother on the matter.
Mr Gilmore wrote back with enormous self importance, saying that he was concerned at the tone and content of Mrs Knott’s letter, and that he was referring the matter to the board of management.; I can only presume that this incredibly pompous reply from a professional educator was intended to deter Mrs Knott from further impertinence in questioning Mr Gilmore’s wisdom.;
The board of management looked into this vitally-important educational matter, and agreed with Principal Gilmore.; They wrote to Mrs Knott to say that David would be suspended shortly.
Mrs Knott appealed to the Department of Education, an action I have to say, I agree with in the face of this kind of overbearing idiocy.; The Department concurred, saying David should be readmitted if his hair was groomed to collar length.; Now, even this is ridiculous and petty, but it was slightly less bone-headed than the position taken by Gilmore, O’Brien and the board of management. And so, David duly had his hair cut.
However, when he returned to the school, he discovered that the board of management had hired a barber to inspect his hair.; A barber!; The school had used scarce money, better devoted to educating its students, for the purpose of hiring a barber to advise on the length of a young lad’s hair.; Imagine that, at a time when schools all over the country are crying out for educational resources.; A barber, to check how long this young fellow’s hair was.
I remind you again that principal Gilmore is a professional educator.
The world-renowned forensic barber-detective said that David would need another inch off his hair, and in the face of such idiocy, David enrolled in another school.; I don’t blame him.; I wouldn’t want my children taught by a person who thinks the length of a student’s hair has something to do with education.
I’m glad to say that an equality tribunal has awarded David â€3,500 for victimisation, but never one to leave a scab unpicked, I thought we might be able to dig into the story a little deeper, so I asked one of our staff to send this email to Principal Gilmore.
Dear Mr Gilmore
Arising from this article in the Irish Times, we intend to run a piece on you in the coming weeks ridiculing your pomposity.
Before we publish our article; I am writing to you to check that you really did what the Irish Times suggests, as we find it hard to believe that any professional educator could be so silly.
Best wishes etc.
If Mr Gilmore replies, I’ll be sure to tell you what he says.; If he doesn’t reply, I suppose we should just run a piece ridiculing his pomposity.
What do you think?
It later came to light that Mr Gilmore has retired and that the new Principal is Mr Gabriel McManus.; What a coincidence.; As I write this, I’m watching Mr Declan McManus performing on television, but I digress.
It seemed only fair to send a second email, correcting our mistake as follows:
Dear Mr McManus
We have subsequently learned that Mr Gilmore has retired.; Please accept our apologies for addressing the previous email to you.
However, it is still our intention to run the piece as outlined, ridiculing the mindset behind the David Knott story, and therefore, if you have any comment on the school’s policy regarding the educational relevance of students’ hairstyles, we would be happy to include them.
Best wishes etc