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Teenager chooses to leave high school rather than cut hair he was hoping to donate to sick sister

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Posted at 1:44 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 14:44:49-05

A 16-year-old Texas boy chose to leave his high school rather than cut his hair, which he says he is growing out to donate to his sick sister.

According to WOAI/KABB in San Antonio, 11-year-old Maggie Johnson was diagnosed with Wegener's disease in October 2019. The auto-immune disease affects the girl's kidneys, and she needs to undergo chemotherapy and dialysis for treatment.

With chemo threatening her long, curly red hair, Maggie's brother Newt decided to grow out his own red hair with the hopes of donating it to Maggie as a wig.

Charities like Locks of Love require between 8 and 14 inches of hair in order to make a viable donation, so Newt got to work growing his hair out. But according to WOAI/KABB, officials Newt's school, Poth High School, weren't happy with his new look.

Newt claims that prior to the three-day Martin Luther King jr. holiday, the principal at the school told him he needed to cut his hair, or he would not be welcome back at school.

According to the Poth Independent School District handbook, students' hair "shall not extend beyond the ear opening on the sides nor beyond the top of a dress shirt collar in the back."

According to WOAI/KABB, Newt spoke with his parents, and all agreed that due to the stress of his sister's illness, it would be best if he left Poth High School and instead be homeschooled.

According to CNN, on the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Newt's mother, Jamie Mathis-Johnson, was called to pick her son up to take him to get a haircut. Mathis-Johnson reportedly declined to set up a meeting to discuss the dress code with the principal.

Had he instead remained at the school, Newt would have been subjected to in-school suspension or detention.

CNN also reports that the school district helped raise over $3,000 in funds for Maggie's illness prior to Newt's decision to leave school.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.