In a recent article, two Greeley Central High School teachers were involved in a teacher student fight over the student’s hat. On Monday October 27, in the hallway, a teacher asked a student to remove his hat. It is said that the student began cussing and the teacher proceeded to remove the hat from the student’s head. The student responded by punching the teacher three times. A second teacher helped to escort the student to the office and the student punched the teacher.

The school has rules and those rules include a dress code. Normally, included in the dress code is not wearing a hat in the building. How we get students to follows those rules is more important.

The hat is the student’s personal property. School staff should be careful with a student’s personal property. I remember as an assistant principal, there were occasions when I had to confiscate student’s property. However, I had certain delegated authority and a relationships with most students.

Teachers who do not have positive relationships with students should not attempt to remove student property when the student decides to become violent. That is why they have security in the schools. If the student is not harming anyone, then report the infraction to the administrator and go back to teaching.

The student will remain angry at both teachers for the rest of the year. This student will feel that the actions of the teachers are unjustified. Many Black students who are attempting to rise to leadership in the school will do everything to upset the teacher. This is the equivalent of making the teacher lose their cool. Which is the primary objective.

Another point to consider is that in the process of removing the hat suppose the teachers did some minor damage to the student. Then we have a Whole new ball game. All that student has to do is to go to the emergency room and complain about pain the they are having as a result of the teacher student fight. Then that means that the hospital has to report the incident to the local social services and the teachers job could be on the line.

If the teachers behavior is rejected by the parent, then these two teachers will find themselves in a long battle. Taking the students hat is the equivalent of touching the student. The Black community teaches their children that under no circumstances is an adult outside of the family allowed to touch you.

Teachers are better off with teaching and allowing administrators to do their job. Here are several tips for avoiding teacher student fights over a student wearing a hat.

  1. The best way to avoid a teacher student fight over a hat is to report the incident to an administrator. Find out the students name. Make the request to remove the hat by calling him Mr. [His last Name]. This will make the student feel that you respect him.
  2. Taking the hat will only work in you have already established a positive relationships with the student. If the student does not remove the hat, it can escalate into a fight.
  3. Instead, give the student a choice. Pull the student to the side away from the crowd and give him the choice to remove the hat or you will report the violation. This keeps the situation from escalating into disrespect towards a teacher, insubordination, or open defiance for a student hat. When you provide a student with a choice, you are extending yourself to a student who may be troubled by something else. You are also extending yourself to develop a positive relationship and other students will gravitate towards you because of your positive efforts.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships


“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”

~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President

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