Some type of dress code might be necessary for schools, but parents around the country have been in an uproar for years over the strict codes their children have been subjected to.
Kids have been sent home just because they were wearing yoga pants or because something seemed too tight to a teacher.
Girls are the main targets of these strict codes and it’s troubling – unless something is blatantly distracting or profane, why can’t people mind their own business and let self-expression reign? Why are girls responsible for the way other people look at them?
But this story goes beyond clothing. Schools are now regulating hair as well. And one girl was denied her school photo for the year because her hair color was deemed to have violated school policy.
Marian Scott is an 8-year-old student at Paragon Charter Academy in Jackson County, Michigan. She wanted to express herself with some bright red hair extensions this year and her parents agreed.
In fact, her mom Latoya Howard was happy to oblige and pleased that her daughter was so excited about her new style.
“Marian couldn’t stop staring at herself in the mirror,” she told TODAY Parents. “She kept saying, ‘Thank you mom!’ over and over again.”
Scott had her hair braided and tied up in a bun with the red extensions showing for school picture day this year. But she was told by teachers that she would have to stand out in the hallway instead while her classmates had their photos taken. She wouldn’t be getting a photo this year.
The 3rd-grader was understandably upset.
Paragon’s handbook states that all students must be in school uniform for picture day, which she was. But it also says: “Hairstyles must be conservative … Hair color must be of natural tones.”
The school told TODAY that they had sent out a reminder of the dress code to parents before picture day, but the family says they didn’t receive it.
Her father, Doug Scott, called the treatment upsetting and uncalled for in an interview with WILX :
“It’s upsetting. Her hair is done in a bun, it’s braided into a bun, it’s just uncalled for to pull them to the side … Marian didn’t leave out the house, go down the street, and go get this done on her own. She’s 8 years old, we did this ourselves in our own home, and there’s just no way I felt like this would happen.”
While the handbook does not state what actions will be taken if a student violates the dress code, Marian was allowed to stay in school that day.
The principal later told WILX that students have a week to correct any “violation,” which is why she was denied a photo but allowed to stay in class.
But her father is still frustrated about the lack of clear communication:
“If they at least would’ve reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, come get her, she’s got a hair issue, we need you to change it, that’s not allowed, it’s in the handbook,’ ” Mr. Scott said. “They didn’t even go to those extents. They let her stay in school. So if she’s not a disruption to the class, then why is she a disruption to the picture?”
It’s a good question.
Is there anything wrong with a young woman expressing herself in such a harmless way? Why do schools dictate hair color or style?
The school is sticking to its rulebook when it comes to blocking Marian from having her picture taken with her red extensions and told the press:
“We understand the importance of good communication in helping strengthen the partnership we have with our families, and will continue to make this a priority to create a school environment where everyone is valued and has their voice heard."
Marian went back to school the following week with all black hair and her family plans on getting her picture taken on retake day in November.
What do you think about the rule? Should Marian have been allowed to have her photo taken anyway? And should schools have any say at all in a child’s hair color or style?
Be sure to scroll down to see an interview with the family.
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