GO THE ?FRO
By TOBY WALKER
IT was a case of hair today, gone tomorrow for the mother of a McAuley Catholic College student who discovered her son had been removed from a school photo because of his afro hairstyle.
Ann Stavert first realised her son Billy had been left out of the photo when he brought his 2004 yearbook home last Friday.
Billy, a Year 11 student at the school, originally posed for his individual photo last May, a photo that was to be placed alongside other individual images of his school mates and grouped together for a Year 10 photo.
Mrs Stavert paid $20 and received a copy of that photo, with Billy included, and had no reason to believe the school had any problem with her son's hairstyle.
But when she opened the yearbook to look for Billy's Year 10 class photos ? the same photos taken in May ?all she found was his name in a list of students marked as absent on the day.
Confused by his omission, Mrs Stavert took the issue up with the school's principal, Gerry Crooks, who she said told her Billy had been absent that day.
According to Mrs Stavert, she told Mr Crooks that this was incorrect because she had the photographic proof of his presence during the May photo session.
During the conversation Mrs Stavert asked Mr Crooks whether Billy's hairstyle had prompted the school to list him as absent.
She said Mr Crooks told her he did not believe Billy's hairstyle would have been the reason he was taken out of the photo and said he would call her back.
After leaving a series of messages with the school over the following two days, Mrs Stavert contacted Mr Crooks again to pose the same question on Wednesday morning.
Mr Crooks told her Billy's hairstyle had contravened the school's code of conduct because his hair went over the collar of his shirt.
Mrs Stavert felt this was an excuse to stifle her complaint and wanted to know why her son had not been told to get a haircut before the photo, or punished for it during the year.
"If they had rung me and said 'look he's not going to be in the photo unless he has his haircut' then I would have made him get his hair cut," she said. "I'm just really disappointed that, for the money I pay, there was absolutely no communication whatsoever with me."
Billy has since had a haircut (by his own choice) and, according to his mother, did not think the issue a big deal.
Mr Crooks was in Sydney and unavailable for comment yesterday.
A spokesman for the Lismore Dioceses said 'the matter had been referred to the Diocesan Education Office for attention'.