This Girl Was Banned From School Over Her 'Distracting' Haircut -- That She's Had for Years

Girl with buzz cut hair
Tara Sysaknoi

Layla Sysaknoi isn't one for pigtails or braids. Instead, this 8-year-old from California prefers to rock a more unique hairstyle that reflects her personality and has been doing so since preschool. But now, her teacher at at Columbia Elementary School allegedly has a problem with the girl's buzz cut style and sent the third-grader home over her "distracting" look

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Layla's mom, Tara Sysaknoi, told Fox News that she received a call on March 5, shortly after the girl arrived at school, telling her that she needed to pick her child up. According to Sysaknoi, the school office told her that Layla's teacher deemed her hairstyle distracting -- although it wasn't new -- and that "she can't be in class with this haircut."

"When Layla was about 3 or 4 years old, she saw a music video made by an 8-year-old girl in tribute to the Sandy Hook School shooting. The little girl had the side of her hair shaved with a heart design," she tells CafeMom. "She bugged me every day for a month for that haircut and was persistent so I gave in!"

Girl with buzz cut hair
Tara Sysaknoi

Over the years, Layla kept one side of her head shaved with different designs and began cutting the other side shorter. "Finally Layla decided she wanted a 'fro hawk' which is what she currently has now," Sysaknoi told Fox News. "Through the years, her school has never had an issue with her hair nor did her previous teachers." 

Sysaknoi tells CafeMom that her daughter has had the same "fro hawk" for over a year and it's only now become a problem. The week before Layla was kicked out of class, she was transferred into this new teacher's class after "an incident with her previous teacher," and that's when her hair was suddenly deemed an issue.

Girl with buzz cut hair
Tara Sysaknoi

The school district's dress code states that "hairstyles which draw undue attention, detract from the educational environment and not acceptable; i.e. unusual designs, colors, mohawks, tails, or unusual razor cuts," are not permitted. 

Sysaknoi told Fox News that Principal Kimberly Hendricks-Brown agreed with her that the dress code policy is "ridiculous," but until the school district changed it, this child only had three options: change her hair, be banned from school, or endure in-school suspension. "I decided that my child shouldn't be punished for being herself or expressing herself so I did not send her back to school,” Sysaknoi said. "She's attended the same school since she was a toddler -- why is it a problem now?"

Girl with buzz cut hair
Tara Sysaknoi

Layla was home for nine days, until her mom was informed that the decision to keep her out of school indefinitely would lead to Layla's being classified as a "truant" for having three or more unexcused absences during the school year. Sysaknoi could be jailed for truancy, so she reluctantly sent Layla back to school on March 14 -- without changing her hair.

"They allowed her to participate in class due to the superintendent telling all teachers not to enforce the rule until it has been reviewed," she tells CafeMom. "She did not change her hair, and from what I was told yesterday, they are currently revising the policy and are going to establish student committees at schools so that students can participate in creating the new dress code policy."

Girl with buzz cut hair
Tara Sysaknoi

Although Sysaknoi is happy that her daughter wasn't forced to cut her hair, she told Fox News that she believes that none of this would have even been an issue if Layla hadn't made a claim in February that her male teacher "yanked her by her arm and she was scared of him."

It was only days later that Layla's new teacher decided that her haircut was a serious dress code violation. "I feel that the incident with Layla's previous teacher was the cause of her hair now being an issue. It's OK for other little boys to cut their hair in a similar style but not OK for her," she said. "Or is it that because Layla and I spoke up about her previous teacher is this their way of 'getting us back'? I just don't understand why all of a sudden her hair is an issue." 

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