— A little boy who was not allowed to attend preschool because his hair was too long now has a new Justin Bieber-esque look, a new school and a pile of hair that will be made into a wig for another little boy or girl who lost their locks to cancer treatments.
Jack Szablewski, 4, sat on a pile of magazines Monday while a hairstylist at a trendy Hoboken, N.J., salon cut off the 12 inches of mane that had never seen more than just a trim.
“It was an amazing day,” said Jack’s mom, Renee Szablewski of Brick, N.J. “Jack handled it quite well.”
For Jack, the donation of his hair for a good cause came with a price. The principal at the Catholic school where Jack attended pre-kindergarten classes sent him home Nov. 1 because his parents missed a deadline for bringing his hair in line with school policy.
The Diocese of Trenton backs up the principal, and Jack hasn’t been back to St. Dominic’s since. Nor will he go back now, even though his hair now complies with the policy.
“I really don’t have too much to say to them,” Renee Szablewski said Tuesday. “I’m waiting for an apology … It’s about abuse of power. It’s not about us breaking the rules.”
Although Jack knows he is no longer at St. Dominic’s because of his hair, he is too young to fully understand the rationale. Nor can his parents, for that matter.
“He is aware that he gave up his trademark hair for a person that is special that really needed it,” Renee Szablewski said. “We tried to keep as much away from him as possible. He knows he was expelled from school. He doesn’t understand why.”
“Nothing has changed in the status of this matter," said Rayanne Bennett, media representative for the Diocese of Trenton. "It was not the length of Jack’s hair, but the failure on the part of his mother to uphold the partnership between parent and school that led to the student’s withdrawal.”
While they worked to schedule a date that Jack could get his hair cut while TV cameras rolled, the Szablewskis visited seven or eight schools before deciding to enroll Jack in the Monmouth Academy in a neighboring town.
“It was a blessing in a disguise. They welcomed us with open arms,” Renee Szablewski said of the school, which introduces students to foreign languages in kindergarten.
Although everything worked out, the family remains upset that the brouhaha over Jack’s haircut overshadowed their efforts to bring attention to the plight of Shannon Tavarez, an 11-year-old Broadway actress who died early this month of leukemia.
A Sept. 30 event that the media had been invited to in order to promote an international bone marrow registry was cancelled due to a storm. There are 7 million names in the registry as potential donors, but there is a shortage of donors for leukemia victims of Asian, Hispanic and African heritage.