Boy arrested in protests as Redcar school denies pupil banned for charity head shave

The Northern Echo: Georgina Anderson Georgina Anderson

A 15-YEAR-OLD boy was arrested during school protests over claims a girl was banned from the classroom for shaving off her hair to raise money in memory of a friend who died of cancer.

Redcar Academy denied it ever had any intention to suspend Mia Flood, 14, who raised money for The Teenage Cancer Trust in memory of her friend, 15-year-old musician Georgina Anderson, from nearby Marske.

But a Facebook group set up at the weekend, called Let Mia Flood Back into Redcar Academy, claimed the well-meaning youngster had been forbidden from attending lessons unless she wore a wig.

The claims prompted widespread criticism of the school authorities on social media and friends vowed to stage a protest before lessons.

Police were on hand yesterday morning when a group of teenagers, chanting "we shall not be moved", gathered in the school grounds. Protestors said a 15-year-old boy had been arrested after a verbal altercation with officers.

Cleveland Police said the youngster is due to appear before Teesside Youth Court on Monday, February 3, charged with a public order offence.

School officials released a statement blaming the media for the furore - but friends of the teenager insisted she had been told she could not return to school unless she wore a wig.

A statement, signed by headteacher Christine Parker, said: “Mia’s parents and Redcar Academy agreed prior to the event held on Saturday, January 18 on arrangements for her education should she choose to have her head shaved. At no point did Redcar Academy intend to suspend or exclude Mia from education.”

However, The Northern Echo has seen a tweet posted by Mia’s mother, Dawn, on Sunday morning which said: “My baby donated her hair to charity and is now home schooled due to extreme hairstyle.”

Following a meeting with the headteacher yesterday, Mrs Flood released a statement which said: "This was never about my daughter or Redcar Academy, it was always about raising funds in Georgina’s memory.

"I am saddened that due to exaggeration and inaccuracies in the press that my family and Redcar Academy have received unnecessary attention from the local media.”

Following the demonstration, the school released a second statement which said: “Ninety eight per cent of our students listened to a statement read out by Mrs Parker and Mrs Flood and accepted that misinformation had been put out by local media.

"Regrettably a small number of students continued to protest, however many of the parents of these students have been very supportive. This small number of students have not been excluded from Redcar Academy.”

The school refused to say if it had refused to allow the teenager back without a wig or if a bald head was classed as an "extreme hair style" punishable by suspension.

One of the student protesters, a 15-year-old girl speaking with permission from her mother, said she was told Mia had to wear a wig in school. 

There were further online allegations that some school protestors had not been allowed out during break, but that was not confirmed by the school.

George Dunning, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said the school was out of local authority control but the local education authority had been assured Mia’s education would be unbroken.

More than 700 people have signed an online petition titled Let Mia Flood go Back to School at http://www.petitions24.com/signatures/let_mia_flood_go_back_to_school/start/60

Comments (3)

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10:01am Tue 21 Jan 14

Quaker Boy says...

The Echo is one of these media outlets that should take some of the blame for blowing this up out of all proportions as they put this story on the front page originally. Get your facts straight first Echo before you report a story. Don't take word of mouth as your source.
The Echo is one of these media outlets that should take some of the blame for blowing this up out of all proportions as they put this story on the front page originally. Get your facts straight first Echo before you report a story. Don't take word of mouth as your source. Quaker Boy
  • Score: 10

10:07am Tue 21 Jan 14

Praetorian says...

This is why I detest Facebook with a passion. It's like a mob meeting for the uneducated who act before they think and have the facts.
This is why I detest Facebook with a passion. It's like a mob meeting for the uneducated who act before they think and have the facts. Praetorian
  • Score: 20

1:30pm Wed 22 Jan 14

Ally F says...

Mia Flood's actions (as reported) were well intentioned but misguided and untimely. Furthermore, it appears both her and her parents were aware of the likely consequences of shaving her head.

There are hundreds of ways Miss Flood could have chosen to remember Miss Anderson and raise money for the Teenage Caner Trust. Inadvertently or deliberately, she has chosen a way that appears to have contravened her school's rules and policies.

If Miss Flood was insistent on shaving her head, she could have done that at the beginning of the summer holidays, and returned to school the next academic year with a short but acceptable hair style.

The school is right to enforce their rules and procedures, and they will probably have an obligation to arrange alternative schooling if appropriate. Rules about appearance and uniform exist for a reason and for the right reasons. School rules instil in pupils a respect for authority and define the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable social behaviour. Such rules also help to ensure equality and fairness amongst a child’s peer group.

No-one should try to turn the tragic death of a young girl through cancer into a cause celebre for emotional blackmail of a school’s authorities. How awful for Miss Anderson’s family that her name is being dragged into this.
Mia Flood's actions (as reported) were well intentioned but misguided and untimely. Furthermore, it appears both her and her parents were aware of the likely consequences of shaving her head. There are hundreds of ways Miss Flood could have chosen to remember Miss Anderson and raise money for the Teenage Caner Trust. Inadvertently or deliberately, she has chosen a way that appears to have contravened her school's rules and policies. If Miss Flood was insistent on shaving her head, she could have done that at the beginning of the summer holidays, and returned to school the next academic year with a short but acceptable hair style. The school is right to enforce their rules and procedures, and they will probably have an obligation to arrange alternative schooling if appropriate. Rules about appearance and uniform exist for a reason and for the right reasons. School rules instil in pupils a respect for authority and define the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable social behaviour. Such rules also help to ensure equality and fairness amongst a child’s peer group. No-one should try to turn the tragic death of a young girl through cancer into a cause celebre for emotional blackmail of a school’s authorities. How awful for Miss Anderson’s family that her name is being dragged into this. Ally F
  • Score: 1

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