Girl's hair color causes stir at school

February 14, 2011 3:15:28 PM PST
One Channelview sixth grader got some unwanted time off from school, and an extra trip to the hair salon. For Stephanie Plato, it started out as a good idea for her 12th birthday.

She said, "Well, I've seen them on my mom and I liked it and wanted it."

So Stephanie told her mom she wanted highlights and she got them -- blonde and red highlights colored into her natural light brown hair. She also got something else -- in school suspension, also called ISS.

"I was shocked," said Stephanie's mother Jessica Leyer. "They said she had to go to ISS or she had to go home so I took her home because I didn't want her to sit in ISS for her hair color."

The red highlights caught the eye of school officials at Cobb Elementary in the Channelview school district. Stephanie and her mom were told the red highlights violated the student code of conduct. Stephanie's mom says she never intended to violate the rules.

Leyer said, "She goes by the rules. We don't break the rules. I didn't think to look at the handbook because she's in uniform, so I didn't think anything of it. She's in school uniform. She goes by the uniform code."

According to the Channelview ISD student code of conduct, a list of items may not be worn, which includes inappropriate hair color, such as red. The school district would not agree to an on-camera interview nor would they specifically talk about Stephanie other than saying her red highlights were a violation of the student dress code.

That part of the code is a little too nitpicky for this mom.

Mother Veronica Ramirez said, "My five-year-old has highlights. She's in Pre-K. I don't see anything wrong with it."

Meanwhile, Stephanie has missed school for doing something she never thought would be wrong.

She said, "I think it's really stupid because I shouldn't be punished for just my hair."

Stephanie was told she had to get her hair back to her original color, which she did on Monday afternoon.