Archive for Thursday, May 10, 2012

Parents say LHS disciplinary action a little over the top

May 10, 2012, 8:38 p.m. Updated May 14, 2012, 8:37 a.m.


The Lawrence school district’s reaction to three senior boys giving underclassmen buzz cuts was a bit of a buzzkill, parents claim.

Last weekend, three senior boys gave their younger brothers and their brothers’ friends what they called “goofy haircuts” in a private home. The boys said they had the underclassmen’s permission and their parents’ approval before shaving unusual patterns into their heads.

A photo of the "crazy haircut" that landed some Lawrence High School students with both in- and out-of-school suspension.

A photo of the "crazy haircut" that landed some Lawrence High School students with both in- and out-of-school suspension.

A photo of the "crazy haircut" that landed some Lawrence High School students with both in- and out-of-school suspension. Jared Fangman is in the blue and Connor Shuck is in the red.

A photo of the "crazy haircut" that landed some Lawrence High School students with both in- and out-of-school suspension. Jared Fangman is in the blue and Connor Shuck is in the red.

On Monday, Mike Fangman was shocked to find out that his son Simon, Simon’s friend Logan Henrichs and one other senior were punished with three days of out-of-school suspension and one day of in-school suspension for the incident.

Simon’s offense was shaving the heads of his younger brother Jared and one of Jared’s friends. Fangman called the school’s reaction “heavy handed.”

And, he questioned how this activity was any different than sports teams who get uniform haircuts to show team unity or students who participate in a school’s wacky hair day, all events that haven’t merited discipline.

In his talks with the school administration, Fangman said he was told the action was taken following a parent complaint. But, he said, he isn’t sure who that parent would be since all seemed OK with their sons’ haircuts.

Fangman believes the administration overreacted because of a Senior Week tradition in years past where upperclassman would chase down younger students and give them haircuts against their will. The father doesn’t dispute that the haircuts were given in the spirit of the Senior Week tradition. However, he said it didn’t have the element of hazing or bullying associated with it.

In an email written to LHS Principal Matthew Brungardt, Kim Henrichs, the parent who was home when the haircuts were given, noted that the underclassmen were laughing and talking about posing for group pictures afterward.

“This was not a reckless event where people were chased down against their will or restrained or taken off guard,” he wrote. “All participants willingly drove themselves to our house.”

Henrichs’ son Logan was punished for giving his younger brother Connor a haircut.

“It seems a bit invasive that our whole family was comfortable and accepting of what occurred with Logan and Connor but the school sees fit to impose its judgement over ours,” he wrote.

District stance

Lawrence High School isn’t the only one that has suspended students for hazing. Last week, Free State High School took disciplinary action against five senior boys for violating the district’s hazing policy. Details about that incident have yet to emerge.

On Thursday afternoon, the school district issued a statement in response to the incident.

“Lawrence public schools are committed to maintaining an environment free from hazing. Our schools clearly communicate expectations surrounding the hazing policy to all students,” Superintendent Rick Doll said in the media statement.

According to district policy, hazing is an act that “recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental health, physical health or safety of a student” to attain membership or affiliation with a district-sponsored activity or grade level attainment.

The district policy states those acts include:

• forced consumption of any drink, alcoholic beverage, drug or controlled substance;

• forced exposure to the elements;

• forced prolonged exclusion from social contact;

• forced deprivation;

• assignment of pranks or other activities intended to degrade or humiliate.

The district also noted it wouldn’t discuss specific student disciplinary matters or comment on the matter further. The district did not release any of the students’ names, but Fangman and Henrichs agreed to talk to the media.

Private property

Fangman said what the district neglected to state was that the policy pertains to school property, school vehicles or a school-sponsored activities or events. None of that applies in this case, he said.

Fangman said he isn’t interested in pushing the issue further, but he would like the incident taken off his son’s record.

“We just want the district to clear the records of these kids so we can move on to graduation and on with their lives,” he said.

As for the actual “crazy haircuts,” it appears that they had a shorter life than the controversy surrounding them. Fangman said that after Jared had the chance to show off his new ’do on Monday, he took out the clippers that evening to give his son an even buzz cut.


David Holroyd 5 years, 7 months ago

Why did Mr. Fangman cut his son's hair? If it is no big deal, then the kid can walk around and look like a goofball.

Again, the parents become helicopter parents trying to right the kid's wrong.

Mollie New Leaf 5 years, 7 months ago

It was just a funny haircut for a joke, not a serious haircut that they wanted to wear all the time. You wouldn't wear a Halloween costume every day, would you?

Jstanobservation 5 years, 7 months ago

Some people in Lawrence wear them every day,but that is their right..

robobob 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm in a science class with two of the boys and they told the teacher that they did it because they felt they had no other choice. These same boys were telling kids in the hallway that they were jumped and given the haircuts. I don't know if it was the same boys, but rumor is that some of the boys told the administration that a group of masked boys came to their houses and shaved their heads. Kind of seems to me that if you're going to go to school and tell people that you were hazed, you shouldn't be too surprised when people start getting in trouble for it. But what do I know?

robobob 5 years, 7 months ago

Which group of boys? The seniors or sophomores? I never said that the boys were being malicious. I did wonder why they came to school pretending that they had been hazed and then cry foul when punishments for hazing are handed out. If they had continued to convince people that they had been hazed and the school did nothing about it, I guess we'd have spent the last couple of days discussing why the school hadn't stopped the hazing. What is it my dad always says?..."Damned if I do, damned if I don't?" The boys got a three day suspension, which is the pretty standard starting point for most things. Kids get suspended all the time. These two are just whining about it. #helpusdaddy2012lhs

pace 5 years, 7 months ago

Well, I wonder if the kids would try to skate as close as possible to the line. No they wouldn't do that, they are teenagers, they wouldn't dare. The school should err on the side of no, or we could just call all hazing and bullying free will initiation jokes.

Armored_One 5 years, 7 months ago

The district officials need to watch Dazed and Confused.

After that, then they can decide whether a little hair constitutes bullying and hazing.

deec 5 years, 7 months ago

Hey if involuntarily cutting someone's hair is good enough for presumptive republican nominee Mitt, it should be good enough for Lawrence.

rtwngr 5 years, 7 months ago

Hey if the witness who gave the story to the press about the alleged Mitt Romney haircut incident, 47 years ago, has now recanted and stated he wasn't even present, then you're perpetuating a lie.

tomatogrower 5 years, 7 months ago

Romney admitted to it, keep up. He said he didn't know the kid was maybe gay, and that he is sorry for his shenanigans. Many bullies feel that way once they have grown up. Doesn't mean I have any respect for Romney though.

newmedia 5 years, 7 months ago

Public schools have lost all sense of reality in this PC kindergarten society. Things done off of school grounds with parents permission are no business of the school district. How about we worry a little more about giving the kids a quality education preparing them for the next level of education or the job market.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 7 months ago

it's very simple: You CANNOT consent to being hazed.

DoUntoOthers 5 years, 7 months ago

If the parents think it is such a nice idea why didn't they get the same haircut themselves instead of giving it to younger ones who couldn't defend themselves and were obviously pressured into this?

Peter Houston 5 years, 7 months ago

I totally agree! It's always a shame when kids end up paying the price for poor parenting.

Jonathan Fox 5 years, 7 months ago


Laughing and joking while getting the haircuts doesn't sound like "obviously pressured into this"

Clickker 5 years, 7 months ago

I have said on other posts that the school was probably over the top on issuing OSS to the kids. However, listening to the PR campaign by a few of the parents involved, and having past involvment with a few, I believe some of the "consent" is retrospective and may be a bit of a coverup. I dont think it was really bullying, although some of the kids may have felt pressure to go over to Heinricks house and "participate" and I do think some of the parents who now say they were ok with it, werent, but now apparently are. I do think it is interesting that the details of the Free State incident hae yet to come out " ....Details about that incident have yet to emerge", but that is pretty typical when the suspension involves a famous Lawrence residents son.

MISTERTibbs 5 years, 7 months ago

I believe the details of the FS incident didn't come out because none of their parents went running to the press or the school board to complain.

It was the parents that made this private matter public.

For those saying the school went too far, when the kids are informed that there will be zero tolerance and they decide to test the limits then it is the fault of the kid if he/she crosses the line. Too many parents in this town aren't willing to act like a parent and then get po'ed when someone else is willing to follow through with the discipline.

nativeson 5 years, 7 months ago

There have been much more coercive incidents both this year and in the past during senior week. I think this might be an overreach, but it comes after a number of complaints regarding hazing that those involved felt did not get the appropriate level of attention. I agree that some of the details might have been revised in retrospect, but I think the district is trying to draw a hard line to avoid losing control. Tough spot.

John Kyle 5 years, 7 months ago

“This was not a reckless event where people were chased down against their will or restrained or taken off guard,” he wrote. “All participants willingly drove themselves to our house.”

Not like Mitt Romney

pace 5 years, 7 months ago

the fact that all participants willing drove themselves isn't truly a negating fact. Most people being hazed aren't kidnapped victims. It is usually a peer pressure event. It sure sounds like the parents are dismissing the behavior. IS the parent saying the other parents were called and informed before the kids came over, that the boys planned to cut their kids hair? Or were the parents only told after the event? I think the school called it right.

pickaname 5 years, 7 months ago

Just shows the Brungardt was the wrong choice for the position he holds. Said it then and still believe it! Stupid stupid power trips, normally by woman, but in this case a power tripped man could cause these students higher education!

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 7 months ago

your choice to inject sexism into your post REALLY helps defend your argument.

Peter Houston 5 years, 7 months ago

I agree with the decision by the LHS principal. What concerns me is that there may be inconsistent application of this policy districtwide. I know my son and his teammates were warned weeks ago by their coach and told that these incidents were prohibited and what the disciplinary consequences would be. I only hope all the coaches in the district were as conscientious. If the LHS students involved did not have this information, then I can understand their confusion. If they did know the policy, and were trying to circumvent it, then they need to grow up and accept the consequences for their behavior.
It does trouble me that the son of a very prominant person in the Lawrence/athletic community may have been among those involved in the Free State situation. I only hope that he was dealt with in the same manner as the boys from LHS. As long as there is communication in advance and consistency in application, then the district is acting properly in disciplining these students.
One more thought...why does it always seem to be the boys who get caught up in this kind of dumb behavior? The girls always seem to know better. Hmmmm...

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 7 months ago

one of the students involved ran track and I know for a FACT that the track coach warned the kids not to do ANY senior pranks or they would be suspended.

Rick Aldrich 5 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like our school board is on a power trip. Why not expell all the young teens for drinking and smoking and using foul laungage and not stopping before turning right on a red light and oh yes and for not cleaning their plates at dinner in their own home.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 7 months ago

How does this involve the school board?

Richard Payton 5 years, 7 months ago

Doesn't follow the standards of a Marine Corps haircut.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 7 months ago

what I don't understand, and never will, is why during senior week students vandalize their own school? Let me get this straight: to show school spirit and to display "class of 2012" pride I'm going to publicly deface my own school.

begin60 5 years, 7 months ago

Punitive and heavy-handed "discipline" needs to stop. Such responses are based on false information about what motivates people to change and grow. Sheer incompetence and malfeasance.-- hardly enlightened, aware, or caring!

Vaildini 5 years, 7 months ago

This is just more parents trying to get there kids out of trouble instead of parent them. The Free State kids did it and got the same punishment without all the whining. #helpusdaddy2012LHS. If these kids really wanted this haircut why did they get it during senior week and not at any other time in there life. Hazing is about kids being to scared to tell on the bullys. Now in an effort to get this off there record they have made it pop up on every search engine when there kids name is typed in. Maybe instead of saying admins should worry about real issues like pot smoking during the school day ,we can say parents could worry about pot smoking and constant drinking by there kids instead of how to get them off of a hazing issue. Sad really.

Clickker 5 years, 7 months ago

Like I said, I wouldnt put it past a few of the parents to be protecting thier kids and saying they were fine with it from the start. Like when your kid breaks team rules by drinking to excess during the season ( in violation of team rules) and parent finds out but says nothing because kid is needed in big game next day........ Not teaching good lessons here. (and I still stand by my view that the punishment was too harsh...3/1 oss/iss)

Vaildini 5 years, 7 months ago

I think the punishment looks harsh until a kid is really held down and has his hair shaved against his will or someone gets hurt during it. And since in hazing you are protecting those being hazed, you just never know if the it is consent or a kid is scared. Those LHS kids all know what the punishment was going to be because everyone in town heard about the Free State kids. They would be at school if they didn't do it for sure. It's like playing that game when one buddy gets on all fours behind someone and you push them over. Our when you push someone in a pool. These are both pretty funny until something goes wrong. Best way to insure that is to not do it.

acg 5 years, 7 months ago

Oh Lord, Overkill! Listening to some of you, I can totally understand why this generation of children is a bunch of lazy, whiny, sniveling little weanies. I suggest all of you wrap yourselves and your children in bubble wrap, asap, so nothing can touch them or damage their fragile sensibilities.

Vaildini 5 years, 7 months ago

acg, awesome, you sound like you have it all figured out. Good for you. haha

sportingfan 5 years, 7 months ago

I totally agree about the pushing people in the pool thing. If you have a pool at your house and some kid gets pushed in the pool, the pusher should get suspended. That kid didn't ask to be pushed in the pool. I am also guessing that his self esteem was damaged by getting pushed in the pool. So the kid that pushed should be suspended for bullying and hazing. No question. What if that kids hair got wet? Maybe the pool owners should be arrested too. Lets put an end to this kind of craziness.

Vaildini 5 years, 7 months ago

See thats what I'm talking about. I'm refering to a recent TV program that had a bride to be pushed in the pool by he bridesmaids. Very innocent and fun until she broke her neck in the pool. But sounds like you got it figured out too. Congrats #helpusdaddy2012LHS

acg 5 years, 7 months ago

So then because one person got injured we should probably do away with pools so no one is ever enticed to ever push someone else into a pool ever again! No, what needs to happen is for folks to realize that sh*t happens and you can't regulate or legislate every little possibility in life. Grow up and stop WHINING!!

Boston_Corbett 5 years, 7 months ago

aww, lets just have those students walk the aisle of a bus from back to front (with their consent of course) while ever else just razzes them a little, you know, a little harmless horseplay...... what could be wrong with that? I mean everyone usually smiles after these things. So it can't be bad.

skittles 5 years, 7 months ago

The night before any of this came out, I heard of some other pranks that were happening as part of senior week. I had just read about kids that were supended in Missouri for bringing chickens to school, and I told my child, "you can't do those things because you play spring sports. You can't get suspended."

GMom05 5 years, 7 months ago

As usual, judgements are being made when no one here has all the facts. None of you were there. Your opinions are built on rumor and hearsay. And please don't sic the cops on my 8 year old daughter for hacking off her 5 year old sister's bangs because everyone said how pretty her hair was. It happened at grandmas and I didn't even know about it.

pace 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't know if I would call the parent a whiney crybaby, He was probably bullied or was bullied in school and thinks it was just something one can't stop. I think the school is right. Bullying is different now, bad back in the old days, and worse now.

asixbury 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't know if that is true. I've heard some horror stories from older people in my family of what went on in school. Now, kids are so coddled and everyone makes a big deal out of the smallest event, it distorts the reality. Bullying should not be accepted, but in this case, the school is being ridiculous.

sportingfan 5 years, 7 months ago

All of you are missing the point. Wether it was bullying or not. Wether it was hazing or not. It happend in a private home between family members. How does the School District have any jurisdiction in somebodies home? If it happend at school the administration can do what ever the hell they want. If it happens at home the administration should have nothing to say about it.

pace 5 years, 7 months ago

You seem to have missed a decade or two. In the old days all you had to do is go off school grounds to beat someone up or have a fight. Hazing and bullying behavior, online, in person, through actions, should have consequences. Now the school, the community and hopefully the parents have set a standard of behavior that has consequences if they are not met. Mostly the school can only suspend you, the community and police can charge you and the parents have a responsibility for what their kids do.

Vaildini 5 years, 7 months ago

you should read up on the abilities of schools and what happens of school grounds. I think you would find there capabilities interesting.

Clickker 5 years, 7 months ago

Read the district policy. At least as far as cyber bullying goes, it could be done in Nebraska on spring break, but if it affects a child in she is stressed because of the bullying that happened at night during spring break, the bullyer (sp?) will get at least ISS in Lawrence.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 7 months ago

So I guess the school has no responsibility to do anything if a kid comes to school with bruises all over his/her body from beatings inflicted upon them "in a private home between family members"?

asixbury 5 years, 7 months ago

They can report the parents to SRS, but that is as far as their legal ability goes.

pace 5 years, 7 months ago

They actually are required to report, by law.

asixbury 5 years, 7 months ago

If I were the parents of the students involved, I would sue the school district for defamation of my son's character. But only if they did not remove this incident from their records. They cannot butt their noses into private households, period. They are over-reaching their bounds of authority and should be corrected. If it happens off of school grounds and not during school activities, then it is a police matter.

asixbury 5 years, 7 months ago

Who says this was done specifically for Senior Week? It cannot be proven, since it was done in the privacy of their own house. The school is stepping over their line of authority.

Vaildini 5 years, 7 months ago

Or if you are the parents you can say that there are hazing rules in place and some kids from the other high school in town were suspended, so the head shaving thing probably isn't a good idea. Stick to all the other stuff you did that the admins were ok with. That sounds like good responsible parenting. "they should sue" haha defamation of character???? you should read some of these kids twitter accounts these days and watch them tear down there character themselves.

mdab1609 5 years, 7 months ago

All it takes is one kid who involuntarily gets their head shaven for their parents to get involved and sue the school.

law62 5 years, 7 months ago

I have experience first hand with the administration regarding this subject starting with the top and his asst henchman. My son of his own free will had a "funny haircut done" and the next day at school the following happened. The asst tells my son to go home because his haircut is disrupting other students, so I ask him to give me an example and he says I don't have any. Talked to the top dog and tell him the story and he says he will investigate. He calls me back to tell there was no disruption in class or the hallway from his teachers. Turns out maybe the asst just didn't like the haircut and by his judgement sent the kid home. Got a call from the top dog and was told my son could come back to school, because the asst couldn't come up with any examples of disruption. Never an apology from the Principal that they were wrong in the first place. A great example of the wrong people in charge with no common sense who should never have been hired in the first place.

Jstanobservation 5 years, 7 months ago

A really good explanation of the situation.

3LHSfans 5 years, 7 months ago

If this is all Doll has to do with his time (surely the administrators in the building wouldn't be this stupid) and close schools that have nothing wrong with them, it's time he moved on. I would suggest he participate and get one of the funny haircuts but he already has one! Is this how Hitler got his start or maybe President Snow in the Hunger Games? Let's find something a bit more constructive to use tax payer dollars for. These are all good kids that are active in school events that are just having home with parental consent. If they all shaved their heads in support a friend with cancer, would that also get them sent home?

Katara 5 years, 7 months ago

3LHSfans (anonymous) says… "Is this how Hitler got his start or maybe President Snow in the Hunger Games? "

Seriously? Invoking Hitler or some fictional tyrant does not help your argument here.

Vaildini 5 years, 7 months ago

well 3LHSfans it wouldn't be hazing if everybody did it in support. If the seniors joined in it wouldn't be hazing it would be different. But they didn't .

DennisAnderson 5 years, 7 months ago

Here is a correction to this article: Lawrence Public School students' disciplinary records are not part of their official high school transcript, but are part of their private record with the school district. Previous information was incorrect in this article and Monday's editorial. This article has been updated to eliminate the error. Dennis Anderson Managing Editor

thebigspoon 5 years, 7 months ago

I hope the football or baseball team doesn't decide to shave their heads again as they have done in the past ???? That might be disruptive to all around them...

turbo23 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm going to apologize in advance for my lack of brevity on this comment. I graduated LHS last May (class of 2011) and I am obligated to point out that I know all of the "offenders" personally. This "offense" was in no way, shape or form an act of deliberate bullying. This was done as an act of fun. Pure and simple. And for those of you who are going to say that I have no idea wha I am talking about, let me say this: I was bullied and if this is considered "bullying"/"hazing", then USD497 needs to get real. That's all I have on the act itself. Moving on to the excessive punishment, it was as stated earlier excessive. Three days suspension for shaving someone else's hair when the shaver had WRITTEN CONSENT????? This is a joke of a disciplinary action and must not be abided by. I have often stated that USD497 bullying policies are not only a joke but hilarious in nature due to the fact that when actual bullying is occuring, the school district gives the bullies a slap on the wrist. However when something like this happens, the consequences are far more severe than the act(s) themselves warrant. I am sick of these absurd and hypocritical stances by the school board and the majority of the school adminstration.

Signed, Tony "Turbo" Martin

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