Rylee MacKay, 15, is an honors student at Hurricane Middle School. Earlier this month she was kicked out of class after she dyed her naturally brown hair Auburn. The school principal refused to allow her to return to class until she dyed her hair back to its natural color.
Rylee said that she first dyed her hair red back in September and had been wearing it that way ever since. However, on Feb. 4, vice principal Jan Goodwin saw Rylee in the hallway and demanded she go into her office.
Washington County School District dress code reads, “Hair, including beards, mustaches and sideburns, should be groomed so that it is neat and clean. Hair color must be a naturally occurring color, i.e. red, brown, black, blonde.”
Even though her hair color was Auburn, which is a naturally occurring hair color, Rylee stated that Goodwin said, “In the light, he said it was pinkish-purple. He told me to have it fixed by the next day or I couldn’t come back to school.”
Rylee’s mother, Amy MacKay spoke with KLS.com and said she wasn’t going to comply. “I absolutely am not going to dye it brown. That is not an option.”
“My daughter feels beautiful with red hair. Changing her hair really changed her, she really blossomed.” Amy said revealing that in the Rylee had struggled with their move to the area.
It was when she was given permission to change her hair color that she began to relax and enjoy herself. Amy went on to say, “And now I have to say, ‘No, sorry, you have to dye it brown?’ I’m not going to change it back.”
Discussing the dress code, Amy MacKay said the policy is vague and open to interpretation. “It’s totally his opinion whether it’s too bright or not. There’s no set standard, no hair palette you can look at and say, “Ok, I’ll go with that red.”
Principal Dr. Roy Hoyt insists that the rules aren’t arbitrary. “We deal with dress code issues nearly every day, specifically hair issues maybe once per week.”
“Most of the time it is a situation where students color their own hair and it doesn’t come out as they had intended. Most of the time it is a judgment call for the administration.”
“This student’s hair did not meet the expectation of naturally colored hair. We apply this standard consistently to all students and nearly every parent is supportive.”
Rylee MacKay spent four days washing her hair until it had faded enough to be within dress code standards. Ryle said that, “All I wanted to do was just get back to school.
Dr. Hoyt stated, “We are a small school in a conservative community. While this policy may seem restrictive, it does establish a behavioral expectation. When these standards/expectations are established and enforced for seemingly small things it provides for a school culture where more egregious offenses are less likely to occur.”
Elizabeth Ebert responded to the situation after reading Rylee’s story in the newspaper. “My daughter went through the same thing there last year, but they told her she could stay because there were only three days left of school. However, they also told me she would have to change it back in order to start school this year.”
Another response to the newspaper, Danielle Ritchey said, “I went to HMS about six years ago and this doesn’t shock me one bit. This school really needs to focus on things that matter, like drug use, sex, and peer bullying and stop those. I’m pretty sure the long term effects of being a drug user or a teen more are a lot worse than putting some color in one’s hair.”
What do you think? Was the school’s response appropriate or not?
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