A Southern Utah middle school student kept from school since last Wednesday for dying her hair red has been allowed back to class.
Officials at Hurricane Middle School decided Monday morning that Rylee MacKay's hair had returned within the "natural hair color spectrum" and no longer violated the district's dress and grooming standards.
"All I wanted to do was just get back to school," Rylee MacKay, 15, said. "They told me it looked like the pink had gone out and I told them that there had never been any pink in it."
The ordeal started last Wednesday when the school's vice principal spotted Rylee in the hallway and asked her to come to the office.
"In the light he said it was pinkish-purplish," Rylee said of the exchange with the vice principal. "He told me I had to have it fixed by the next day or I couldn't come back to school."
Washington County School District's dress and grooming standards state that "extreme hairstyles are prohibited" and that "hair color should be within the spectrum of color that hair grows naturally."
"We'd asked her not to come until she complied with the policy," said Hurricane Middle School Principal Roy Hoyt. "99% of our parents come in here with the attitude 'okay, we'll comply' and they take care of it within hours."
Rylee spent the rest of Wednesday and all of Thursday and Friday out of school. She was told that if she didn't have her hair fixed by Monday she would be suspended.
"Being singled out like that, you feel like you've done something wrong," Rylee said. "It just makes you feel like a criminal or something."
The 9th grader's mother just recently gave her daughter permission to start coloring her hair and says she made sure they followed the dress code when they went in for a touch-up at the beginning of February.
"I said the school rule is she can't have anything out of the natural color spectrum so we need to make sure she stays within that," Amy MacKay remembers telling the stylist. "I was reassured 'oh yes, we're definitely using all natural colors.'"
"I thought it would follow the rules," Rylee said of her hair color choice. "Dark red with a little brown mixed in with it."
Rylee said she washed her hair every day since she was kicked out of school and that a lot of the "shine" from the touch-up has faded, which is why she believes she was allowed back to school.
"I believe we did the right thing," Principal Hoyt said. "I just think it's a non-issue that people are getting a little over excited about."
Amy MacKay wants the district's grooming policy updated to list what colors define "the spectrum of color that hair grows naturally."
"She shouldn't have been denied an education," Amy MacKay said. "The majority feels like I do; the rule's too vague."