SD high school student told to cut hair or find a new school

Cut your hair or find a new school was the ultimatum placed before 14-year-old O’Gorman freshman, Braxton Schafer.
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 10:25 PM MDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY/Gray News) - A 14-year-old boy in South Dakota will transfer high schools at the end of the semester after he was given the ultimatum to cut his hair or find a new school.

Braxton Schafer, 14, is a freshman at O’Gorman High School, a Catholic school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was told he needed to cut his hair to comply with the school dress code or find a new school.

His parents said the timing of the decision was unfair, KSFY reports.

“He’s had one haircut his entire life, so cutting his hair would be significant,” said Braxton’s father, Derrick Schafer.

The O’Gorman dress code’s hair policy states that boys must keep hair length “above the eyes and not touching the collar.”

“People enroll in our Catholic schools, then they know what we stand for, and they know what we are representing and the structure and environment that we will create for their family,” said Kyle Groos, president of Bishop O’Gorman Catholic Schools.

At an open house on Aug. 24, the high school’s assistant principal spoke with Braxton’s parents about the teen’s hair. Since then, they’ve met with other administrators.

“We were open to a lot of different compromises. The only one was just not cutting his hair,” Derrick Schafer said.

During his time at O’Gorman Junior High School, Braxton said he hadn’t received any complaints about his hair from staff. That changed after he transitioned to high school.

“There’s some communication that was broken down that was not corrected and needs to be corrected. That’s what probably has us in the situation that we’re talking about right now,” Groos said.

Braxton is an active member of the school band and played his first football game Thursday. His mom, Toni Schafer, spoke with the South Dakota High School Activity Association the next day.

“Since he’s practiced and had a game, he would not be able to transfer into another school and continue with the activity,” she said.

“He just wants to go to school. He just wants to play football. He wants to be in marching band. He wants to hang out with the kids,” Derrick Schafer said.

After extensive conversations, the school decided to let Braxton finish out the semester without cutting his hair, but after that, he will transfer to a different school.

“We’re sitting here talking about haircuts when I’m sending him there for an education, and we’re getting booted because we have long hair,” Toni Schafer said.