IRON RIVER – A student at West Iron County in Iron River was told he could not participate in sports unless he cut off his pink Mohawk. Junior Mike Barker donned the hairdo in support of his mother battling breast cancer.
After four requests to cut his hair, Barker said he was told he could not attend the school’s track meet.
“I thought I would just go on the bus to see what they were going to do or say. I got on the bus after school to go to Eagle River for our track meet and Mr. Sullivan, our new track coach, told me I had to go to the office one more time. (Principal) Mr. Berutti told me either I cut my hair off or I can’t participate in the track meet. I told him, ‘you know what, I’m done.'” Barker said.
Other students also walked off the bus in support of Barker. The next day more than 40 students wore pink outfits to support Barker’s stance to wear a pink Mohawk and run track.
Photos were posted on Facebook and soon a page was set up to support Barker. He has received comments of support from all over the country.
Barker said he wore a Mohawk while playing both football and basketball this year. The objection, he said, was that he dyed his hair pink.
Barker’s mother Wendy Pawlicki said she is proud of her son.
“They have all of these policies in the handbook of you can’t do this, you can’t do that. If the kids are going to school they’re learning, they’re getting an education. Leave them alone. Does it matter the way they look? Really? Honestly?” Pawlicki asked.
Barker and his mother are expected to meet with school officials Monday in an effort to resolve the situation.
In a statement to media, the school district said they support the needs of students to express themselves as long as it does not interfere with the education process. They said Barker has not been dismissed from the team.