School Threatens To Suspend Girl Over Blue Hair

| by Karin Sun

A Florida middle school student was threatened with suspension after she dyed her hair blue for a school play.

Olivia Shaffer, 12, told ClickOrlando that she decided to dye her hair the unusual color in order to get in character for a school production of "The Little Mermaid," in which she plays the role of an eel.

Officials at Discovery Middle School in Orlando, Florida, however, did not appreciate the change.

On March 29, Olivia's dean reportedly pulled her aside and told her that she had until April 1 to dye her hair back to its natural color, or else she could face a suspension.

"He was like, 'You have options about this. You can restore your hair to its natural color and it won't be an issue,'" the pre-teen, who has naturally brown hair, said.

Erin Shaffer, Olivia's mother, said she consulted the school district's code of conduct before allowing her daughter to dye her hair, and the dress code does not specifically mention hair color.

The 2015-16 Orange County Public Schools Code of Conduct does not contain any specific guidelines for how a student is permitted to wear or color his or her hair, although it does state that individual schools in the district "are encouraged to extend their own standards to meet the uniqueness of their school community."

The code of conduct also specifies that any student who violates the dress code will be disciplined according to the steps outlined in the statewide Florida Statute. 

According to this statute, students who violate the dress code will receive a verbal warning and parental notification on the first offense, will be barred from participating in extracurricular activities for five days for the second offense, and will receive an in-school suspension of no more than three days for the third offense.

Although officials at Discovery Middle School told ClickOrlando that they did expand the school's dress code to restrict hair color that could be a distraction, it is unclear whether these changes were actually put into effect.

Erin told ClickOrlando that her daughter's hair color should not be an issue for school officials and that dyeing it back could damage her hair.

"Pick your battles, you know," she added. "These are our kids, and worry about the things that are important, worry about making a good impact on them and molding their minds."

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