ACLU Sues Over Student's Forced Haircut

February 9, 1999 12:00 am

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Tuesday, February 9, 1999

TOLEDO, OH — The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio today filed suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on behalf of a Toledo public school student whose hair was forcibly cut by a hall monitor and his school’s principal.

In separate counts, the ACLU is arguing that the school principal assaulted and battered the student and violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unlawful seizure.

Morgan Woodson, a 13-year-old sixth grader at Glenwood Elementary School in March 1997, caught the attention of a hall monitor after going to school with his hair styled in “popcorn braids” held with multicolored rubber bands.

According to court papers filed by the ACLU, Woodson was pulled out of a lunch line by the monitor and taken to the office of principal Ann Redmond, who ordered him to remove the braids. After Woodson tried unsuccessfully to remove the braids with his hands, Redmond approached him with a pair of scissors. Denying Woodson the opportunity to call his mother, Redmond proceeded to cut his braids out, cutting patches of hair from his head in the process.

Woodson and his mother Carla Woodson, who joins him as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, are represented by ACLU volunteer attorney Marc Williams-Young of the Toledo firm Spitler & Williams-Young. The suit, which names the hall monitor, Redmond and the Board of Education as defendants, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and further asks the court to declare that Redmond’s actions violated public policy.

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