School forced into embarrassing apology
AN ELITE Queensland private school has been forced to apologise to a student, who shaved her head for charity, after mounting pressure from the public this week.
Lourdes Hill College, in Brisbane's east, told the grade 11 student, who did not wish to be named, to "wear a hat at all times" after she turned up to school with her head shaved on Monday.
Despite raising close to $1000 for the Leukaemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave, the girl was allegedly told to cover her bald head on school property, a move that has created controversy among parents and students.
Public outrage, and even a classroom rebellion led by the girl's peers, forced the school's principal, Robyn Anderson, to issue a letter to parents yesterday informing them that a "face-to-face apology between the teacher and student happened" that morning.
The story was originally shared on Facebook by Deanna Tezak, the mother of a Lourdes Hill student, and quickly went viral, as people expressed their anger at the "shameful" act.
In the most recent letter, Ms Anderson told parents that Ms Tezak's post, and the intense public scrutiny that followed, forced the school to hire a "media strategist" to help.
"Since we became aware of this post we have had a media strategist on site working closely during each step," Ms Anderson said.
"Our student remains our focus, and we are in constant contact with the student's father."
Despite hundreds of comments online condemning the school's treatment of its student, Ms Anderson closed her letter with an unusually chipper note, claiming it was "great to see the students in classes today enjoying their learning".
Speaking to news.com.au, Ms Tezak said she had received more than 250 private messages "from past and present students as well as parents in support of this girl".
"The public donated to her cause and has now reached more than $3300."
The young girl at the centre of the controversy had informed her school she was preparing to shave her head two weeks prior to the act.
Ms Tezak's now viral Facebook post described the alleged treatment that followed the girl's selfless act.
"This particular girl was advised that she was not allowed to remove her hat at any time during the day because her head was shaved, for a great cause," Ms Tezak wrote.
Ms Tezak claimed the girl was "humiliated and reprimanded" by a teacher because she had shaved her head.
"This teacher then went out of her way to ask other teachers if she had her hat on in class (in 35 degree heat)," she wrote.
"When this female teacher found out that she had taken her hat off in class, she was pulled out of the classroom, in front of the other students, and reprimanded for 20 minutes before being allowed back into the classroom."
"Not only did she raise money, she had the courage to shave her head," Ms Tezak said.
"What kind of message do you think this is sending to the rest of the students at the school?"
The post was shared nearly 400 times and liked by more than 500 people, many of whom demanded the school apologise to the girl.
In response, another student posted in a private online group calling for other students to wear hats in support of the girl.
"And it we get told to take our hats off in class, we stand together and say no," the post said.
Speaking to news.com.au, Ms Tezak said the move was an incredible show of support for the girl.
"They put their hats on their heads and refused to take them off, and then posted photos of them on social media," she said.
Lourdes Hill College would not respond to questions from news.com.au but released two letters to parents yesterday.
In the first letter, Ms Anderson, assured parents the college "has a long history of supporting charitable fundraising initiatives" and the protection of students was a major priority.
In a follow-up email, distributed yesterday afternoon, Ms Anderson advised parents the family of the girl in question had asked the school to refrain from commenting publicly on the matter.
She did, however, strongly encourage "direct conversations with parents at any time".
According to Ms Tezak, the school administration called an "emergency assembly" yesterday to address the issue.
"How are you, as a student, supposed to feel when you do this fantastic thing by raising money for a charity, then you get to school and get torn down for it?" she said.
"It's absolutely disgusting."