PORT ORANGE, Fla. (WESH) — A freshman in a JROTC program at Spruce Creek High School is at the center of controversy after he was ordered to cut his hair.
And he won’t be allowed in uniform until he gets that done.
“It’s part of my culture. It’s something I’m proud of. My brothers also have locs like me,” 15-year-old Logan Rentz said.
Rentz always wears his hair tidy and back in a bun when he’s in JROTC class at Spruce Creek High School in Port Orange. So when the program instructor told Logan he had to lose his locs, bun or not, the teen thought it was a joke.
“He said I had to cut my hair to wear a uniform and I was like, ‘oh, I thought you guys were playing around,’” Logan said.
Logans’ mother, Dr. Keshia Rentz, an administrator at the high school, comes from a military family and was proud her son wanted to be part of JROTC. She was appalled and offended when she received a document that described her son’s hair as ‘matted’ and ‘unkempt.’
“His hair doesn’t interfere with anything. He runs track. He plays basketball. He’s in karate. And I don’t think it would interfere with JROTC as well,” Keshia Rentz said.\/promo
Dr. Rentz did some research and found out Logan could stay in the program as a participant even if he didn’t cut his hair. She says that’s when the instructor started giving Logan “special” assignments.
Logan has a learning disability where he struggles with reading and writing. But on days when his fellow cadets were in uniform, Logan had to turn in an essay.
“He had to write about a total of 10 essays that were 900 words each, three to four pages,” Keshia Rentz said.
His mother says other assignments, like picking up trash on uniform days, followed. She brought in attorney Katie Kelly, with Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida. Kelly calls those special assignments punitive and says the teenager’s groomed locs have nothing to do with the mission of JROTC.
“It’s not to make soldiers. It’s not to indoctrinate them into the military or expect them to live up to a military standard, it’s simply to make good citizens,” Kelly said.
Logan said not being in the uniform with everyone else makes him feel left out and like he’s not part of the program.
We reached out to the instructor but didn’t hear back.
A school district spokesman says the matter is under investigation and that they are communicating with all the parties involved.
The family’s attorney intends to file a complaint with the state Department of Education and a federal complaint for violation of Logan’s civil rights.