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Marshall ISD principal reprimanded after using marker on student's head

By Hannah DeClerk
Oct. 13, 2011 at 11 p.m.

MARSHALL - A Marshall Junior High School assistant principal has been reprimanded for using a permanent marker on the head of a student whose teacher thought his haircut was "gang related."

The student's stepmother said she has filed a grievance with Marshall ISD about the incident.

At 9 a.m. Monday, Sheldon Williams, 12, was sent to the principal's office because of his hairstyle, which included short, shaved lines on each side of his head.

Seventh grade Assistant Principal Michael Morse used a permanent marker to scribble out one of the lines, said Philleniea Williams, the student's stepmother.

"The principal could have given us a call immediately, and we could have fixed it with clippers," she said. "But he told me he wanted to get my son back to class as quickly as possible."

Williams said she was shocked to learn the principal's actions were because he believed the haircut to be gang related.

"It is a haircut with two lines on the side," she said. "My son ain't in no gang; he is a good kid."

Williams said Principal Debbie Crooms told her gang-related designs are outlawed by the school's handbook.

"Kids have mohawks and other hairdos, and I can understand that, but two lines?" Williams asked. "How is that gang related?"

She added that Crooms said she was "new to the district, and she was handling situations how they had been in previous times." Williams said her elder son, who is in 10th grade, told her such incidents had occurred at the school for several years.

"So obviously they have been coloring kids' heads for a while," Williams said.

Regardless, she said her stepson has a new haircut since the incident - without the shaved lines.

Superintendent Bruce Gearing said the assistant principal "has been reprimanded" and that he was "truly embarrassed about what has happened."

"I want to apologize to the parents publicly; it will never happen again as long as I am part of the district," Gearing said.



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