A Victoria school is under fire for shaving a student’s armpits. Melissa Woods claims that her 14-year-old daughter Taylah was “extremely upset” after she was made to shave as part of the school’s “life skills” program.
Woods told 3aw.com.au that a teacher at the Wangaratta District Specialist School shaved her daughter’s armpits in front of two other girls in class because Taylah “will get picked on” with hairy underarms.
“I spoke to the teacher the very next day and she told me she has the right to do it, it’s part of the curriculum,” the mother said.
Although the lessons on personal care are indeed part of the school’s curriculum, Woods said that she did not give the school permission to shave her daughter.
“I wasn’t satisfied with that so I went to the principal and sent her a letter,” she continued, adding that the principal wrote back expressing her regret that they didn’t have a permission slip for the mother to sign.
Principal Libby Hosking promised to “seek specific permission” in the future.
“This is a very sensitive issue,” she was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying.
“We’re very concerned and regret that the family and the child were very upset.”
Part of the school’s independent living skills program is to demonstrate how to do things. The Wangaratta District Specialist School teaches children with intellectual and physical disabilities.
Woods said that Taylah, who has expressed to her in the past her apprehension towards shaving, has a neurodevelopment disorder called microcephaly and ADHD.
“She’s seen me do it and she’s told me before this happened that ‘I don’t want to do it.’ I said to her, ‘That’s fine. I have no problems with it. You come to me when you’re ready,’” Woods said.
“But when the school did it I thought, ‘No, that’s invading her rights as a person to decide whether she wants to get it done or not.’”
Woods has written to the regional director for a better explanation on the incident.