Favorite

No long hair in Eureka 

On basketball court.

Eureka Springs is not typically thought of as a hotbed of conservatism, the Christ of the Ozarks notwithstanding. But a recent event at Eureka Springs Middle School may put the town's liberal reputation to the test.

Seventh-grader Bobby Conway was denied the right to play on the boys' basketball team because he has long hair. His parents, Linda and Robert Conway, are suing the Eureka Springs School Board in Carroll Circuit Court, saying the school's denial violated Bobby's constitutional rights. The suit seeks $100,000 in damages and an order allowing Bobby to take part in games. Washington Circuit Judge John Linebarger is a special judge in the case. No hearing has been set.

In a town described by residents as a haven for artists, populated by hippies in the 1970s, why would the school system have a hair-length restriction for the boys' basketball team?

The fact is, it doesn't. Basketball coach Daniel Cornelison created the rule, Bobby's mother charges, because he thought long hair reflected poorly on his coaching.

Eureka Springs Middle School does not restrict hair length for members of the girls' basketball team. This disparity is a partial basis for the Conways' lawsuit, which claims the restriction against their son is unconstitutionally based on sex. The lawsuit said the coach's rule has “no reasonable justification … in terms of education or competitive needs or demands of school children.” Boys with long hair have been allowed to participate in soccer and track at the middle school, Conway said.

School Superintendent Reck Wallis refused to answer any questions about school policies.

A member of the board who spoke under condition of anonymity said the board gave Cornelison its tacit approval. “There really wasn't even a vote; it was just kind of a nod. It was discussed and we just all understood that we were behind the coach and his policy.” The board member added that there was never a thought that the situation might end up in court.

Bill Brazil, attorney for the school board, said the defense is challenging the jurisdiction of the circuit court to hear the case.

Linda Conway said the couple tried reasoning with the superintendent and only talked to a lawyer as a last resort. “It's just so much more than hair at this point,” she argues. “It's civil rights, it's discrimination, and if we don't stand up then who will stand up? Who will stand up?”

Like the town's own culture, where “diversity weekends” and fundamentalist attitudes rub shoulders, the town's response to Bobby Conway vs. the Eureka Springs School Board has been mixed. Linda Conway says most people seem to be supportive, but one mother she knows was afraid to be seen with her for fear that the school would keep her son from playing basketball. “Everyone's just amazed that it's gone this far, and me too,” Conway said.

At this point, Bobby Conway has no plans to cut his hair. He goes to the games and sits behind the team to cheer on his would-be teammates. For now, they won't let him play basketball, but once his beard comes in they might let him play Jesus in the annual Passion Play.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Fritz Brantley

  • The incredible shrinking Huckabee

    Plus: COPS!
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • The Week That Was, Dec. 20

    The UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS. After our deadline last week, they landed a football coach, the collegiately successful — but personality-challenged — Bobby Petrino. Petrino fled a losing record with the Atlanta Falcons, who hurled insults at him in his wake.
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • Mike’s humble roots

    James H. Wallis in 1935 wrote a cynical primer for office seekers, which he dedicated to Niccolo Machiavelli. The important first step, he said, was for parents to arrange for the ambitious child to be born in a log cabin or, that failing, the next worst
    • Dec 20, 2007
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Asa on pre-K

    • Aug 17, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Banker signs on for Rx accounts

    • Pain relief, sleeping better, people reducing AND even eliminating opiate use. Have yet to find…

    • on December 14, 2017
  • Re: Banker signs on for Rx accounts

    • So "outside of those four states, consumers must put their trust in the manufacturer"? OR…

    • on December 14, 2017
  • Re: The class of 2016

    • Government by the People means we have to be active citizens. I am greatful for…

    • on December 14, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation