A 15-YEAR-OLD boy was arrested during school protests over claims a girl was banned from the classroom for shaving off her hair to raise money in memory of a friend who died of cancer.
Redcar Academy denied it ever had any intention to suspend Mia Flood, 14, who raised money for The Teenage Cancer Trust in memory of her friend, 15-year-old musician Georgina Anderson, from nearby Marske.
But a Facebook group set up at the weekend, called Let Mia Flood Back into Redcar Academy, claimed the well-meaning youngster had been forbidden from attending lessons unless she wore a wig.
The claims prompted widespread criticism of the school authorities on social media and friends vowed to stage a protest before lessons.
Police were on hand yesterday morning when a group of teenagers, chanting "we shall not be moved", gathered in the school grounds. Protestors said a 15-year-old boy had been arrested after a verbal altercation with officers.
Cleveland Police said the youngster is due to appear before Teesside Youth Court on Monday, February 3, charged with a public order offence.
School officials released a statement blaming the media for the furore - but friends of the teenager insisted she had been told she could not return to school unless she wore a wig.
A statement, signed by headteacher Christine Parker, said: “Mia’s parents and Redcar Academy agreed prior to the event held on Saturday, January 18 on arrangements for her education should she choose to have her head shaved. At no point did Redcar Academy intend to suspend or exclude Mia from education.”
However, The Northern Echo has seen a tweet posted by Mia’s mother, Dawn, on Sunday morning which said: “My baby donated her hair to charity and is now home schooled due to extreme hairstyle.”
Following a meeting with the headteacher yesterday, Mrs Flood released a statement which said: "This was never about my daughter or Redcar Academy, it was always about raising funds in Georgina’s memory.
"I am saddened that due to exaggeration and inaccuracies in the press that my family and Redcar Academy have received unnecessary attention from the local media.”
Following the demonstration, the school released a second statement which said: “Ninety eight per cent of our students listened to a statement read out by Mrs Parker and Mrs Flood and accepted that misinformation had been put out by local media.
"Regrettably a small number of students continued to protest, however many of the parents of these students have been very supportive. This small number of students have not been excluded from Redcar Academy.”
The school refused to say if it had refused to allow the teenager back without a wig or if a bald head was classed as an "extreme hair style" punishable by suspension.
One of the student protesters, a 15-year-old girl speaking with permission from her mother, said she was told Mia had to wear a wig in school.
There were further online allegations that some school protestors had not been allowed out during break, but that was not confirmed by the school.
George Dunning, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said the school was out of local authority control but the local education authority had been assured Mia’s education would be unbroken.
More than 700 people have signed an online petition titled Let Mia Flood go Back to School at http://www.petitions24.com/signatures/let_mia_flood_go_back_to_school/start/60