Kershaw County, SC (WLTX) - The parents of a Kershaw County kindergartner contacted News19 after they say he was told not to return to school, because of his haircut.
He had the image of a popular cartoon character, SpongeBob SquarePants, shaved into his head - an image that police say is also a gang symbol.
It was a big shock to mom Francesca Brown, and although the school district now says her son will not have to get rid of the haircut, it's one she's still upset about.
Six-year-old Andrew Samuel is a big fan of the Nickelodeon cartoon. But when he got the main character shaved into the side of his head, his school wasn't such a big fan. "His grandmother called me and she was like, 'The school called and said Andrew is gonna be put out of school because he has a gang-related sign on the left side of his head.' And I was like, 'That's SpongeBob!" explains Francesca.
According to several law enforcement agencies, the character is used as a gang symbol.
Francesca says a school resource officer studied the cut and the principal at Midway Elementary told her Andrew couldn't come back to school until the design was gone. The gang connotations of SpongeBob were something neither Brown nor her mother had ever heard about before. "This is a child. There are not that many kids out there that don't like SpongeBob," says Gail Brown.
Adds Francesca, "Why is it not in the handbook or you telling someone when I come to teacher meetings or sending out notifications?"
News19 called the school district, who got the superintendent, Dr. Frank Morgan, involved. Dr. Morgan says Andrew will be allowed back to school - without having to cut his hair.
But, Francesca is still upset. "I'm not gonna put a gang sign in my son's head and actually send him to school. I don't want him to be that. I want him to be something better in life," she says.
The school district told News19 they want to do what's best for all the children. But, Brown and her family say that until the district got involved, the school wasn't going to let Andrew back.
Francesca says if it had come down to it, Andrew would have stayed home to fight for the right to express himself.