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Ribble Valley boy banned from class for having a beard
A SCHOOLBOY has been banned from class for having a beard.
Harrison ‘Harry’ Cerami, 15, is a ‘big lad who looks like a man’ and ‘wants to have a nice, trimmed beard’, according to his mum.
Ribblesdale High School, Clitheroe, reprimanded him about his facial hair on Wednesday, then took him out of class on Thursday and put him into isolation when he returned unshaven.
Headteacher Simon Smith said the policy for boys which had been in place for ‘many years’ was that they attend school clean shaven.
Mr Smith said Harry, from Wilpshire, could return if he simply had a shave — and the school’s stance was backed by Ribble Valley council leader Michael Ranson.
But Harry’s mum Kerry has refused and threatened to keep her son off for the remainder of term.
She said she had told staff that he suffers from acne and if he shaved it would cause irritate his skin.
They were told that if he wants to keep the beard, they must get a doctor’s letter to state that shaving it off would cause problems.
Mrs Cerami, who runs an online boutique for children’s clothes, and dad Michele, who is Italian and runs his own computer company, said they were outraged at the situation.
She said: “There’s children at that school with earrings, nose rings, eyebrow piercings, yet Harry’s being singled out for having a beard.
“He’s hit puberty and is a big lad who looks like a man.
“Before he went back to school after a week’s work experience, we took him to a proper barbers to get his beard trimmed and shaped so he looked really smart.
“There are Asian children at the school with beards, but this is not a religion issue.
"He’s just a good looking, hairy lad that wants to have a nice, trimmed beard.
“He would have to shave every day and it would cause him real problems.
“I could perhaps understand the isolation punishment for something more serious, but to be put into a small room for a whole day is disgraceful.”
Mrs Cermai said her son felt school was ‘like prison’.
She added: “If this carries on, we’ll just keep him off school for the last two weeks.
“Harry was furious. It was such an over-reaction.
“When he complained to the deputy head mistress Wendy Smith, he was told if he didn’t like the policy, he could find another school.”
The Ribblesdale High School website uniform policy does not specifically mention beards.
It says: “Hair styles must be neat and tidy and avoid extremes of colour and style.”
Mrs Cerami was sent a letter from the headteacher which said: “Dear Mrs Cerami, I’m writing to let you know that last week I asked Harrison to come back to school after his week’s work experience placement clean shaven.
“Our policy for boys is that they attend school clean shaven. This has been the policy of the school for many years and the governors have not altered this in the recent past.
“I’m sure this will cause neither Harrison nor yourself any difficulty.”
Mr Smith was not available for comment, but in an end-of-term letter to parents in April he outlined his stance of uniform and appearance - and frustration with those who did not back the school up.
‘I believe that a smart school uniform sets high standards and expectations for the pupils and is also a very public statement about us, as a school, within the community,’ he wrote.
‘Whilst many pupils are extremely smart and wear their uniform well, a number do not.
“It is often the ‘small things’ which make the biggest impression: make up; jewellery; hair style/colour, etc.
‘It is not always about wearing a tie and tucking a shirt in.
‘These aspects of uniform are influenced very much by the fashion of the day, but increasingly, staff are having to challenge pupils about these aspects of appearance as well.
‘Unfortunately, some parents do not support us when we challenge pupils about their appearance. I am very grateful to the vast majority of you who work with us to promote the highest possible standards.
‘For pupils who persistently challenge the uniform standards, we will use the full range of sanctions available to us which may also involve parents coming into school to discuss any issues I, or other staff, may have.
Ribble Valley Council leader Michael Ranson backed the school and said: “As far as I am concerned if the school has a rule and that rule is quite clear, then pupils should abide by them.”
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