“I got a text from my son, and he said that they made him shave,” Calallen mother Amber McKesson said. “I’m like, what?”
That’s how Amber’s day started Tuesday when Calallen High School leaders forced her 14-year-old son, Connor, to shave his upper lip, because they say he was in violation of the school’s dress code. Connor had never shaved before in his life, but he took the disposable razor he bought for a dollar from the school nurse and gave it his best shot. His mother was completely unaware at the time.
“You’re going to make my son go shave his mustache when he doesn’t even know how to use a razor?” Amber said.
Connor’s inexperience with a razor showed. He ended up cutting his upper lip from one end to the other.
“I messed up a little right there,” Connor said pointing to his lip.
Calallen school leaders didn’t do on-camera interviews Wednesday, but they did answer questions via email.
“Staff at Calallen High School followed the proper policies in requiring the student to report to the nurse’s office to shave,” Assistant Superintendent Emily Lorenz said.
Those policies include asking Connor if he wanted the school to call his mom and present her with three options. A male administrator could help Connor as he shaved, a parent could come up to school to help, or Connor could spend the day in in-school suspension and shave at home overnight. Connor says he rejected that phone call and tried to shave without any instruction.
“I want to try on my own instead of getting help,” he said. “I want to feel independent.”
Amber would like to see the school district make the phone call home to parents before requiring a student to shave mandatory. She would also like school leaders to, prior to requiring a shave, always ask a student if he’s ever shaved before.
“You ask them if they know how to use a razor,” Amber said. “You call the parents.”
Current school policy doesn’t require school leaders to ask a student about his shaving proficiency. It’s the student’s responsibility to tell an administrator or nurse if it’s his first time. It’s unclear whether Amber’s requests to change the policies will work, but the district indicated that policy-tweaks are possible.
“We always evaluate our practices and procedures,” Lorenz said via email. “Calallen ISD administration will be looking into how to best communicate with students to ensure they are aware of their options if they are first time shavers.”