Controversy over hair color at a St. Francois County, Missouri, school: a high school junior was sent home because her hair was “not a natural color,” violating school dress code.
Savannah Keesee should be in school on a Tuesday, but instead, she spent the day at home in Irondale, because of her hair.
“She just wanted it a little bit different. We had a bunch of snow days, and did some girl stuff and dyed her hair,” explains Savannah’s mother, Sheri Keesee.
The Garnier Fructis permanent auburn dye turned Savannah’s natural red hair a little brighter than expected. But she didn’t expect the West County High School 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 says, “So 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.”
But her mother insists, “I dyed it auburn, which is what was on the box. And auburn to me is natural, just like strawberry blonde or blonde, or black or brown.”
West St. Francois County Superintendent Stacy Stevens couldn’t comment specifically on Savannah’s situation, but he says this hair color policy has been in place for decades: “We try to work with the students to be fair. 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. Her mother, meanwhile, wishes the principal would worry about bigger issues: “Instead of maybe picking up on the bullying, and kids who are actually causing trouble, its hair color?”