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Hair color gets Alabama high school student tossed from school on first day of classes

Students at an Alabama high school are being sent home if the principal deems the color of their hair “too distracting.”

Hayleigh Black showed up at Muscle Shoals High School for the first day of school earlier this month, but was made to leave after the principal said her bright red hair violated the dress code. Her school day ended before she even had a chance to meet her new classmates. The sophomore said she has been dyeing her hair the same color red since she was an eighth-grader without any repercussions.

“I have never had anybody come up to me and say, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t have this color,’ or, ‘Do you think that’s a bad color?’ ” Hayleigh told NBC affiliate WAFF.

Hayleigh was sent home by Principal Chad Holden, who was acting principal last year.

“Nothing was ever said last year.”

- Kim Boyd

“Nothing was ever said last year,” Hayleigh’s mother, Kim Boyd, told the station. Boyd had to fetch her daughter less than 30 minutes after she dropped her off at school. “Never got any calls, never sent home, anything saying it had to be changed up until today.”

“I understand sending kids home for pink or purple or blue, but Hayleigh is red, and he (Holden) argued it was not a natural shade of red,” Boyd said.

Last week, attorney Jonathan McGee sent Holden a letter informing him that the school had violated Hayleigh’s First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights when she was sent home.

"Red is a natural hair color," he told the Florence Times Daily. "It is embarrassing and humiliating to be singled out, but especially for a 15-year-old girl.”

Muscle Shoals City Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Lindsey told WAFF that Hayleigh was one of four students sent home for having dyed hair that ran afoul of the dress code.

Lindsey said the Muscle Shoals High School Student Handbook prohibits hair "which has been dyed a bright or distractive color." The handbook allows only hair dyed “a natural human color.

Hayleigh was permitted to return to school the following day after she changed the color of her hair. 

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