Special Report: Seeing Red - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Special Report: Seeing Red

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

OXFORD, MS (WMC-TV) - The habit of washing that gray right out of your hair or exploring whether blondes really do have more fun dates back decades.

But today, there's a new trend of not so common color choices.

"Red and pink, blue and purple are the most popular," hair stylist Amy Thomas tells Action News 5.

Meagan Browne sported a red streak on her first day back to class at Lafayette County High School. 

"I was happy because I had finally convinced my mom to let me do it," Browne said. "It took three years."
 
But Brown said her principal wasn't happy, and threatened to suspend her and several other students, including Tyler Hynous.  The students were accused of violating a rule in the school handbook that says, "Hair styles that disrupt the educational process will not be permitted...including, but not limited to, unnatural hair color." 

"I just feel like she's being treated unfairly," Browne said.

Her mother, Marlene Echols, wants the district to define 'unnatural.' 

"In one opinion that could mean red, blue, green, purple, orange. In another's opinion, that could mean anything out of a bottle," Echols said.

A number of Meagan's classmates sport two-tone highlighted styles.  So why aren't they accused of disrupting the education process with unnatural color?  Action News 5 asked Superintendent Mike Foster to explain the policy.

"Blonde is a natural color even though, it may be a highlighted color," Foster said. "A blue is not really a natural hair color."

Foster said it will be entirely up to the high school's principal to decide how the matter will be resolved, but he added there are no plans to change school policy."

"The main thing that we don't want...is for it to disrupt the classroom setting," he said.

But like Karen Hynous say the conflict over color has been more disruptive than the hairstyles.

"Those kids need some real counseling if they cannot study because somebody's hair color is different," she said.

Meagan Brown wants to fight for her fashion statement.

"All I want is to be able to have the freedom to express myself in the way that makes me happy," she said.

Her mother supports her.

"Just because they're children does not mean they don't have rights," Marlene Echols said.

A mother who's taught Meagan to not judge a book by it's cover, and hopes educators will offer that same lesson.

Though Meagan and her friends were threatened with suspension if they didn't get rid of the bright colors in their hair, the principal has decided to allow them to keep their style choices for the rest of the school year.

Parents took their displeasure with the hand book policy to the school board Tuesday night.

Copyright 2009 WMC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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