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Teenager Transfers Schools Rather Than Be Forced to Change Her Hair Color

Eighth-grader Alena Halliwill dyed her hair bright red during the summer of 2016. Within days of returning to school in the fall, the Ypsilanti, Michigan teen’s hair color became an issue.

The 13-year-old was kept out of South Arbor Charter Academy for a day because her hair color violated the school dress code, which calls out hair specifically: “Extreme hairstyles and hair of unnatural color are not permitted.”

But after being sent home from school, the teenager decided she would not go back to the charter school, MLive reported. And she has the full support of her parents.

The girl’s father, Dave Halliwill, tells Yahoo Beauty he was surprised that his daughter’s hair color was an issue. “She’s just a real self-expressive kid, and I think it’s a part of her,” he says. “She dyed [her hair] in the summer, and I didn’t really think much of the school policy. My recognition of the school’s policy was that they didn’t want kids dying their hair unnatural colors, like pinks and purples and greens. So I didn’t really think that the hair was going to be a problem. We honestly hadn’t even thought of it.”
However, Jennifer Hoff, senior manager of communication for National Heritage Academies, which is South Arbor’s school management organization, explained to MLive that the dress code should not come as a surprise, saying, “The dress-code policy is presented to families very early in the registration process, and all are aware of it.”

Halliwill’s father explains that he spoke to the school, which stood by its dress code. He told his daughter, “Alena, we have to respect their policy, this is what they want, and we said there are some other options around town.”

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Alena let her parents know that she wanted to be transferred to another public school. “It was only the second day of the school year, so we told her, ‘We do support you on that,’” he says.

Months later, Alena’s father says she’s happy with her decision to switch schools. “We found out Alena is very happy now and doing well,” he says. “She’s actually one of the top students at her school academically.”

Alena’s dad says the family has no animosity towards her old school: “We wanted to support her, and it worked out fine,” he says. “Everything worked out for the best. We have no hard feelings against the school. They are trying to do their best with their policies and their standards. It’s never easy to draw that line.”

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