Year: 1996-1997
Month: September
Leader: Group H

Situation/Case Study:
STUDENT/TEACHER/FAMILY ISSUE

Description:
The situation that was chosen by the group involved a high school student who was told by the faculty member in charge of a class trip that he would either have to cut his fuschia hair or change the color if he wanted to go on the trip. This trip is not a school organized event but the school sends out the mailing for it and fundraising efforts are conducted at the school. The teacher does not know the student. Other than his fuschia hair, the student is a quiet student who is gifted but is failing classes. He is a skateboarder and identifies with the "alternative" culture. The student told his mother who called the school to find out what the policy is and talked with the child's advisor and an administrator.

Hypotheses:
A teacher in such a situation might feel frustrated because of lack of clarity of rules. An activity that is organized or appears to be organized as an optional school trip should be considered a school trip. If the teacher wants to make his own rules or requirements then he must do all his planning, fund raising and meetings off of school grounds. A teacher in such a situation might feel frustrated because a co-teacher judged a person by his outside appearance and denied entrance to an activity by how the student looks. Sometimes you have to play the political game; not talking directly with the sponsor first but to an administrator. As an advisor, you should feel frustrated because we are teaching and modeling a world that is fair and equal. Is a level playing field being provided? Hair isn't the problem. This could be viewed as discrimination by the teacher. I think this is a clear demonstration of discrimination by a teacher based purely on the student's physical appearance. Students are representing a group and everyone should conform to some basic rules such as dress. A teacher should have the right to expect well-dressed individuals since he/she is responsible for the group. Issue of dress should be brought up to all children. There are appropriate ways to be representative of the school.

Theories behind practice:


Impact on others:
Discrimination. School/non-school sanctioned activities. Rules that could apply to either type of activity. Legal issues.

Solutions:
The district has to make a rule about school trips. The district needs to decide if this is a school event or not - and declare it so & separate it. If it's a school function, establish procedures that are agreed upon & published for all to view.

Comments:
Since this was the first time through the process, the group was a little unsure of the steps. Some members of the group jumped into hypothesizing before writing and some offered solutions before analyzing various perspectives. All seemed to have difficulty in drawing on research or theory to support their hypotheses. They were quick to look for legal ramifications. The moderator needed to keep the group focused on the steps, ask participants to do the reflective writing, and challenge them to make connections to theory.