FULL STORY: Facial Hair Lands Band Director on Administrative Leavehttp://cbs7.com/education/article_95049cce-f0f6-11e4-a85c-6373ba5a127a.html
Posted by CBS7 News / KOSA-TV on Saturday, May 2, 2015
School districts have any number of rules for employees, but some of them are weirder than others. For instance, in Christoval—a small town about twenty miles south of San Angelo—teachers and other faculty who work with students are not allowed to have beards or mustaches. While that’s a curious restriction for a school in Texas to put in place to begin with (what if Chuck Norris applied to teach the kids self-defense? What if Willie Nelson wanted to offer guitar lessons?), it’s especially surprising how inflexible Christoval ISD is in enforcing the rule—at least so far as it relates to band teacher Darrington White.
A small school band teacher is fighting for his job after being placed on administrative leave for having facial hair. The school district says it goes against their policy, the teacher says he has a medical condition that doesn’t allow him to shave.
White has a letter from his doctor confirming that he has a condition called “tinea barbae,” which causes fungal infections when shaving. (Google it, it’s gross.) The National Library of Medicine recommends treating the condition by avoiding shaving in sensitive areas, something that White’s doctor also affirms is the best way to handle his condition at the current time.
Strangely, though, that recommended treatment isn’t flying in Christoval.
The doctor’s note clearly states Mr. White needs to have a beard, or else all the symptoms he just described would become extremely painful and disfiguring. According to the school district the doctor’s note isn’t enough because they say the impairment “doesn’t limit a major life activity or operation of a major bodily system.”
White’s beard isn’t particularly attention-worthy—it’s a trimmed, well-manicured goatee (according to people who know White, hair doesn’t grow on the sides of his face)—so it’s not like he’s trying to get away with flouting school policy while looking like a member of Beard Team USA. Which makes it very odd that the school has concluded that shaving would have to be life-threatening, as opposed to just painful and disfiguring. And conditions like this are not uncommon for African-American men.
Further complicating matters is the fact that KOSA-TV claims that there are at least two other male employees who work with students who have beards. (The school’s golf coach, Larry Sanders, has been identified as one of them—and here is the Facebook profile of a hirsute Larry Sanders who lives in the town of five hundred.) The media outlet notes that neither of those gentlemen have been placed on leave. (The school, for its part, declined to comment to the station about their status.) All of which suggests that there might well be something else going on here.
Christoval is a small town—at the time of the 2010 Census, it was just over five hundred people—so if there is a reason that the school is selectively enforcing this policy around White, and not Sanders and his colleague, it’s likely the sort of thing that locals know and out-of-towners will be unable to learn. But there’s plenty of chatter from Christoval residents on Facebook about the school district’s superintendent, Dr. David R. Walker.
Whatever the issue is here, it’s hard to understand why a policy like this is (a) in place to begin with, and (b) enforced selectively, with the school refusing to comment when asked directly about it. One can only hope that Christoval ISD gets this all sorted out quickly, because it’s a bizarre situation that only gets hairier the more we learn about it.