I worked for a principal (Marie) who fought all sorts of battles many of us wish we could but ultimately realize are not worth our time. This consumed hours of time and she rarely left the office, but I suppose she viewed it as her duty in her role. One such instance arose when one of our 8th graders arrived at school on Monday with a nose ring which was a violation of the dress code policy.
In my experience, kids who get nose, tongue, eye brows, etc. pierced, they become almost hysterical at the notion of having to remove them as the piercing process is expensive and the hole would close immediately. This case was no different. "My mom MADE me get my nose pierced." The girl refused, even when faced with possible suspension, to remove the nose ring. So Marie got the mom to come in.
I think we all hold out hope for some logic when the adults are brought into the picture, but it's the same sort of hope reserved for playing lotto- you really want to win, but know almost entirely that you won't.
The mom came in and explained that in her families culture that a nose ring was a sign of becoming a woman. At this point, I can tell you that I would be done with this conversation. I battle over a tiny nose ring isn't a good use of my time and a parent calling the superintendent and accusing me of being culturally insensitive certainly wasn't on my to-do list. But Marie pressed on. "Well, what culture is that exactly?" The mom said they were Native American. "Why don't you have a nose ring?" Mom couldn't really answer this one. "Well what about this weekend marked her becoming a woman?" The parent couldn't answer that one either. She babbled something about 'just knowing' when the time is right.
The mom and daughter eventually left, but Marie wasn't done. She pulled the kid's file and saw they had marked Caucasian on her enrollment. Marie immediately called the parent back and informed her that before she could allow her back in the school she would need to come back in and change ALL paperwork from Caucasian to Native American.
The parent balked a little at this claiming to be both Native American and Caucasian, but Marie explained that for her to allow her daughter into the school in violation of the handbook approved by the Board Of Education her paper work would need to reflect this cultural allowance.
Begrudgingly, the parent returned the next day. Marie had dug up every form she could find to make this parent fill out. Everything, including forms that didn't even address ethnicity, had to be filled out again Marie explained. The parent spent about half the day filling this crap out, but eventually completed it all and the girl was allowed to keep the nose ring. While I didn't in any way believe the parents version, I will share that I am aware of no distractions or disruptions that occurred by allowing the student to keep the nose ring in.
Marie did shit like that all the time. She made doing the wrong thing hard for people even if caused her extra work, stress, and conflict. Her reputation for taking on little things likely prevented it's share of problems. It's not really my style to pursue such trivial issues, but it was certainly entertaining to watch...