I apologize for make lack of posting my life has been turned upside down with so much happening. I am taking on one school in a fight against the amount of candy they hand out on a hourly basis. And I am taking on another school because my daughter was kicked out of school due to her hair color. Yes if you’ve seen it in the news that is my daughter. No this is not a blog about food this time but it is about being a real mom. Though I have to admit my daughters face being plastered across 6 different continents, on Yahoo, CNN, even contacted by the Anderson Cooper Show and in more newspapers than I can even count does not feel like real life! (today there is a letter to the editor address WCSD from SHANHGHAI, CHINA!)
Rylee is my daughter.
Rylee was told Wednesday February 6th that she had to turn her hair back to brown or she could not come back to school. My husband was called and he told the Vice Principal that he was in training and could not come get her. The VP said that she could stay but her hair had to be fixed before she could returned. I then called the VP and asked him if her even knew who my daughter was. Mr. Goodwin said “I do now.” Exactly he didn’t know her because she was not a problem student and she didn’t draw attention to herself, if anything she was the quiet girl who flies under the radar. She is an honor student without so much as a tardy. She didn’t want attention and being pulled out of class twice in one day, crying because she was heart-broken that she was going to have to change the red hair she loved so much was much more attention than she would ever want. I tried to explain to him that I couldn’t just leave my job to go have her hair dyed and asked if she could stay in school the west of the week so I could have it done professionally over the weekend. He tole me that “if it were important enough” I should leave work. I told him he wasnt giving me any options that worked and he told me to go to Wal-Mart and buy a box like all the other parents do. I had not allowed her to use a Wal-Mart box the first time around and I wasnt going to destroy her hair now just because he was telling me to. I told him she had just gotten a touch up 5 days before and that it would fade over the next week, and could she just stay in school until then. His answer once again was “NO.” The best he could offer was putting her in a separate room where no one would see her. Like a caged animal!
Now understand Rylee had been dying her hair since September of the previous year. She had gotten the same color every time. I did not take dying her hair lightly. I made sure it was professional and was going to look natural. I was also clear that there was a dress code in Rylees school. I explained the rule to her stylist and she assured me the color combination she used would be natural looking. She used a mix of “natural brown and Red.”
This is the dress code we were trying to follow. We believed Rylees hair was im compliance with WCSD Dress and Grooming Standards.
3.1.4. Hair, including beards, mustaches and sideburns, should be groomed so that it is neat and clean. Extreme hairstyles are prohibited. Hair color should be within the spectrum of color that hair grows naturally.
On Friday I took Rylee back into the school to see Principal Holt. I had tried to talk to the Superintendent of schools but was told I had to talk to Mr Holt first. Mr. Holt agreed to recheck Rylees hair on monday and told us to do whatever we could to die it down, like having a brown put over it. He also told me to get a green shampoo and that would help remove the red. He also asked my to support whatever decision he came to. I told him I would not dye her hair brown and that he would have to be clear on what red she could have. They were missing the point, she wanted red, not brown and we were not clear on what shade of red was going to make them happy.
On Monday I sent Rylee to school where she was made to wait in the office through first and almost all of second hour before they talked to her
. She even asked if she could go to first hour because she had a group presentation to do. She was
told “NO.” and made to wait because they had “school issues to deal with.” Apparently my daughters education and grades were not an important enough school issue. When they finally call her in the men told her to stand near the window and turn her back to them while both men examined her hair. Can you even imagine how this made a 15-year-old gi
rl feel. Did
they never consider her self-image or how humiliating that would be for her. She was told it looked like she had removed the pink and could go to class.
The truth: Rylee did nothing more than shower and wash her hair everyday like normal. She even used her color conserve shampoo.
So why one day or even for 5 months is her hair ok and but on another day she’s a distraction? The school has never contacted us, they have never apologized.
The media attention has had its good and bad. We are happy that it has spread and we believe it has because it’s just that crazy. People are clicking the links because they just cant believe its true. But tears have been shed from the rude comments. Yes for every one thousand supporting comments there have been one or two haters, but those are the ones that stick with you. I have been told to be a parent not a friend, I should shave her head to embarrass her as much as she has embarrassed us, or I’m teaching her she doesn’t need to follow the rules if she doesn’t like them. Rylee has been called a liar, saying she probably had blue streaks she was keeping from the press, told numerous times she looked as old as 40 and had wrinkles, or the photos had been altered or that she had fixed it.
It has also been hard with being let down by people who you would expect to have your back at times like these. Support at times has been greater from strangers than friends that are afraid of what their neighbors will think in this community. It hurts.
“We’d asked her not to come until she complied with the policy,” said Hurricane Middle School Principal Roy Hoyt. “99% of our parents come in here with the attitude‘okay, we’ll comply’ and they take care of it within hours.”
Thats the schools attitude, and so many parents have given in to their demands. Why has no one fought back? They think they can control our children. They have forgotten what they are actually hired to do: EDUCATE. I did not sign a paper giving up my daughters civil rights at the door. I am not from here and I am not teaching her to be submissive. From the time any of my 4 children were born I have taught them to “use their words” and voice their feelings. This time was no different.
Rylee and I attended the WCSD board meeting. Not surprised the dress code was not even mentioned during the meeting. Both Rylee and I spoke during the public comment session. I started by telling the I was here because of what happened to my daughter, I then refered them to their policy.
” School administrators, teachers, students and parents need clear dress and grooming guidelines so that rules of dress and discipline can be enforced consistently.”
The guideline stated in the dress code are no where clear when it comes to hair color. Because as A parent and adult I honestly believed we were within your guideline. There is no color palette that we can look at. So basically it’s subjective. Yes obviously blue is out but which blond is ok which red? I mean her hair had been this color since September and in February she was removed for 2 days and we did nothing to change it yet she was allowed back in on Monday.
I was told she was being removed from school because she was a distraction. When I asked who she was distracting the answer was that she was deliberately breaking a rule and she knew she was getting away with it making her a distraction. But again that was not true, that was saying it was intentional. Again we both thought we were following the dress code. Is there any study showing that hair color is distracting in a classroom?
It is also considered part of their behavioral expectations? Can anyone explain to me how hair directly affects behavior? Jesus had long hair and Albert Einstein had crazy hair, did it effect their behavior? For teens maybe its making them feel more confident, pretty, unique, excepted, but these are actually all feelings, not behaviors. Aren’t these all feelings that we are trying to help teenagers gain? not suppress. Don’t they have enough going on with peer pressure, teen suicide, and drugs. Personally if my daughter wants to experiment and express her self I’d much rather it be through her hair than drugs or alcohol. Also won’t this confidence she’s gaining help her to not give in to these other peer pressures? I guess then you could say that is effecting her behavior. But not quite how its outlines in your standards.
In the end, are we telling these kids that we are judging them on their physical appearance and not on their morals, behavior and personality? Aren’t you telling them how they look is more important than their education? Essentially that’s what happened to my daughter.
What about our civil rights to express ourselves? We as Teenagers have so many rules and restrictions mostly to keep us safe, but how will we ever find ourselves if we are sticking to the old concept that children should be seen, not heard.
We propose that the wording of the dress code be changed and even be considered to be put to a vote by the people of Washington county. It also needs to be enforced the same across the board in all Washington county schools. Looking at different schools my hair would never have been an issue.
I think if you take the time to review any of the hundreds of thousands of comments on the Internet in the past 5 days along with the polls placed on news website you will find that 92% of the people agree there needs to be a change.
Please don’t let this die until a change is made in Washing County School District. Weather you believe the dress code needs to be reworded or if you think teens should be allowed to dye their hair as a form of self-expression, make your voice heard. Please email the superintendent and members of the board, refer to policy 3.1.4. Board emails can be found on WCSD web site. http://www.washk12.org