Boy forced to drop out of school for not cutting hair he's growing for sick sister

Photo: Jamie Mathis-Johnson / Facebook
Photo: Jamie Mathis-Johnson / Facebook 

Teenager Newt Johnson started growing his hair in case his critically-ill sister Maggie needed a wig after chemotherapy.

However, because of his high school's haircut policy, the US 16-year-old faced the decision to either cut his hair, or withdraw from high school.

Maggie, 11, was diagnosed late last year with a rare auto immune disease called Wegener's disease. It causes kidney failure, and Maggie experiences severe nausea and headaches. She became so ill she had to leave school last October to receive dialysis and chemotherapy.

Known for her long red curly hair, brother Newt watched his beloved sister losing clumps of her distinctive mane, and after she complimented his hair,  he decided that's how he'd help her.

"Some spots of my hair has came out, just like started falling out," Maggie told CNN affiliate WOAI/KABB

"He's growing out his hair in case I need a wig," she added.

Newt said, "We spend a lot of time together so it really bothered me. It made me feel good that I could do something for her."

He did his research and learned that to donate his hair it would need to be between 20 and 35 cm long, however when he was a few months in, the principal at Poth High School told him to cut it.


The school's policy is that male students may not have hair longer than shoulder length and has to be cut above the ears.

CNN reported, "Johnson was asked by his high school to cut his hair before the beginning of winter break in December. The school gave him until Tuesday, January 21, before the code of conduct consequences would be implemented."

"It really stressed me out because I already worried about my sister," explained Newt.

He decided not to cut his hair and after turning up to school that Tuesday, his mother Jamie Mathis-Johnson was called in to take Newt for a haircut.

She refused to do so and expressed her discontent with the school's totally inflexible position, so it was decided that Newt would be home schooled for the duration.

Dad Alan said, "I was proud, they know to be respectful and kind, but if they have a thought they believe in, something they can put their foot down and stand up for it."

Maggie expressed her astonishment over the school's position. "I don't understand why you're kicking him out for doing something for me if I need it."

Poth Superintendent Paula Renken told CNN that Newt "would not have been denied his education," however he would have had to attend daily after-school detention in accordance with the district policy.

"It was never about not supporting a sick child," she added. Still they wouldn't budge on the policy.

Alan Johnson supported his son's decision, saying, "Listen to your kids, if they really believe in something even if it does go against the rules sometimes you just have to dig deep see if it's really worth it or not. It's worth it."