High school student sent home because her hair was ‘not a natural color’

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- A high school student in St. Louis was sent home because her hair was "not a natural color" and violated the school's dress code.

Savannah Keesee, a junior at West County High School in St. Francois County, spent Tuesday at home in Irondale because of her hair color.

“She just wanted it a little bit different. We had a bunch of snow days, and did some girl stuff and dyed her hair,” Savannah’s mother, Sheri Keesee, told KTVI.

The permanent auburn dye turned Savannah’s natural red hair a little brighter than expected, but Savannah says she didn’t expect the principal to object.

“He goes, 'Your hair is really bright.' I said, ok, he goes, 'You need to call your mom and have her come pick you up,'” Savannah recalled. “I tried to go back today and he said I couldn’t stay because my hair was still the same color.”

Savannah was told her hair violates the school’s dress and grooming code.  According to the school handbook, “Non-natural hair colors will not be permitted. For example, green, purple, blue, etc.”

Savannah's mother insists she dyed it auburn.

"Auburn to me is natural, just like strawberry blonde or blonde, or black or brown,” Sheri Keesee said.

West St. Francois County Superintendent Stacy Stevens declined to comment on Savannah's situation, but he said the hair color policy has been in place for decades.

“We try to work with the students to be fair," Stevens said. "We don’t want them out of school, we don’t typically have issues with this policy. I think our students and parents are accepting of it. It’s been in place a long time, and I think it’s a policy that works."

Savannah hopes the school district will work with her, especially since the dye will probably dull over time.

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6 comments

  • Jennifer W.

    While Auburn is a natural hair color, the color shown on the box is not always what ends up on your head. That is why they always suggest testing it on a small patch of hair that is inconspicuous first, in order to see what it is actually going to look like on your hair. I can tell you from personal experience that putting auburn hair color on top of already red hair is going to look pretty darn unnatural.
    Despite the idiocy of the rule itself, I have to side with the school on this one. Go get a box of black. In fact, the whole school should go out and get their hair dyed black just to make a point about how stupid a rule it is.

  • themikegun

    This happened to someone I worked with. She was sent home without pay because of this same color. The company also had a policy about naturally colored hair.

    Another person was allowed to stay, even though she had the same color. The company said the hair color was commonly used by women of her race and she was allowed to keep it.

    (Obviously, the two women involved are a different race from each other.)

  • betterhave

    The school apparently needs to learn how to express themselves. Saying that “non natural” colors are prohibited and citing blue, green and purple as examples of “non natural” clearly leaves the message that “Non Natural” is being defined as colors that do not naturally occur in human hair colors as opposed to a range of colors that are found in the spectrum of naturally occurring human hair shades, even though they may not be that individual’s ‘natural’ hair color. In this case, the brighter tone is very different from say, bright orange or ‘Christmas Red and is not sufficient to be worth the loss of even one day’s education. Nor is it enough to risk the damage of having a color ‘stripped’ from her hair. More and more these days we seem to see school “professionals” who lack the ability to think for themselves and the wisdom to know when to draw a line. Those qualities should be present in an administrator, of all people, where the skill is central to the ability to do the job.

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