Student suspended for pink hair - WSMV Channel 4

Student suspended for pink hair

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SMYRNA, TN (WSMV) -

How pink is too pink? That's the question an attorney had to tackle at Smyrna Middle School on Thursday morning.

The issue came up after a child was kicked out for having pink braids in her hair, and the mother called it discrimination.

In hair salons across the country, it's one of the latest trends: popping colors like pink and purple peeking through naturally colored strands.

"I like it because I like pink," said Taura Patton, a sixth-grade student at Smyrna Middle School.  
This week pink "peek-a-boos" landed the honor roll student in trouble and sent home.

"I felt sad and embarrassed at the same time," said Patton. 

"And I'm like, 'Over her hair? Really?' This is ridiculous," said Donita Richardson.    

The school has a policy: all students have to have natural hair colors. Colors like blond and brown are acceptable, but pink is not.

"To me, if you look up the word discrimination, that's what you're doing. It's OK for people with natural color hair but it's not OK without natural color hair. That is discrimination all day," said Richardson. 

Richardson first took her complaints to the principal.

"You're a principal. This is a school of education, not a school of fashion," said Richardson. 

When that didn't work, Richardson said she came to Channel 4.

"I said, 'what's the difference?' When you change your color, it's unnatural now honey. There's no difference between whether it's pink, blue, blond, it's now unnatural," said Richardson.

Channel 4 called the school board. Representatives there told Channel 4, even though the middle school does have a policy requiring non-distracting natural colored hair, the staff attorney determined that Taura's hair extensions were not causing a disruption
so the absences will now be waived from the student's record.

Some parents told Channel 4 they think the rules are the rules and students should follow them.

Richardson said the rules need to change.

"It would be different if her hair was spiked up to the ceiling, or even if it was, it's none of your business. It's not bothering anybody," said Richardson

Rutherford County school representatives said some of their schools have this natural hair color policy, others do not and it's up to each of the  individual school leaders to decide. 

No word yet on whether Smyrna Middle plans on making any changes.

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