What the HAYnes? Hurricane Middle School student kicked out for ‘egregious’ hair color

Stock image. This is not the girl mentioned in the accompanying humor column.

HUMOR – Hurricane Middle School student Rylee MacKay caused quite a kerfuffle recently by dying her hair a subversive shade of reddish-brown. Rylee was kicked out of school for dying her hair a color that, in the opinion of school administrators, was not in keeping with school district policy.

According to my sources – gossip overheard while sitting under the dryer at the hair salon – Rylee had been dying her hair the same shade of reddish-brown since September, but only recently did it stick in the craw of school administrators. She was asked to leave school and not return until her hair color was changed to something a little more “natural” and perhaps a little less “Lucille Ball.”

After an extra-long weekend of washing her hair daily and doing absolutely nothing else to adjust her hair color, Rylee returned to school on Monday. Her hair color was deemed acceptable by school administrators and she returned to class.

This series of events may seem egregious to those who are unfamiliar with the district dress code which explicitly states:

“Extreme hairstyles are prohibited. Hair color should be within the spectrum of color that hair grows naturally.”

It may also seem egregious to those who have not read Washington County School District’s recent statement in defense of their dress code:

“While this policy may seem restrictive, it does establish a behavioral expectation. When expectations are established and enforced for seemingly small things it provides for a school culture where more egregious offenses are less likely to occur.”

In short, removing Rylee from school for dying her hair the extreme and unnatural shade of reddish-brown is a classic case of preemptive egregious offense. Hurricane Middle School administrators were egregiously offensive before Rylee had a chance to be. Well played, Washington County School District.

Perhaps there are pertinent details relating to Rylee’s story that might make these events more understandable. Maybe she is one of those rabble-rousing, spit wad-throwing students and her reddish hair was the final straw. Maybe her hair was a genuine distraction. Maybe she just caught her principal on a bad day. Or perhaps the district dress code is purposely vague to provide for selective enforcement of the rules. There is always more to the story.

Sure, wearing a knee-length smock and keeping one’s hair within the natural spectrum of colors may inexplicably improve school culture. I get that. I am in favor of a dress code. I am not in favor of a dress code that is ambiguous to the point that students who have even the slightest desire for self-expression run the risk of getting kicked out of school at the whim of the administration.

My advice to the students of Washington County School District: Make friends with your principal. Bring her a Diet Coke. Follow the rules. If you fly under the radar for long enough maybe you can dye your hair a wild shade of light brown when you are in college.


Elise Haynes chronicles family life in her blog Haynes Family Yard Sale. Any opinions stated in this column are her own and not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • kristin February 16, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    If her hair was grey would that be ok?…just not buying all this and i work for the district!

  • nelson February 16, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    This area is … and so sheltered that no one try and live a life of their own. Plus kids will be kids! Let them and it is not like dying ur hair is a crime or even contagious like drugs. I really don’t see anything wrong with it and neither should anyone else. Stop being so judgemental about how someone looks especially when u know them.
    Ed. ellipsis

  • George February 16, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    As an avid observer of media culture, this story fascinates me. I’ve been watching the auburn hair-affair go viral for days now. The story has been repeated on six continents and about six hundred media outlets around the world. So, naturally, I’ve come looking at the local coverage, to see if the people closest to the story are aware of how it has propagated and how perceptions of this area are being molded by it.

    And I find … almost nothing.

    I know what small-town news operations are like. Your publisher is beholden to a relatively small base of local advertisers, who have given clear marching orders. No Bad News. Write “uplifting” things. Think about our property values!

    You look ridiculous right now. Your community, this school and, sadly, this publication. Were it not for this story, I wouldn’t know St. George exists. And now this is essentially all I will ever know about it … or need to.

    • Lisa February 16, 2013 at 9:18 pm

      This is a humor column George. St. George is beautiful place with absolutely breathtaking surroundings. So glad you won’t be going through it anytime soon. Keep up on your detective work.

  • Dan Lester February 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    Well, George, sorry you won’t stick around and learn about a fine community and a great place to live. Anyone who would judge a whole community based on one story about one ill-advised decision by a school administrator probably wouldn’t be happy much of anywhere worth living.

    Yes, the story “went viral” (to use the current term) just as other goofy stories do all around the world. So what? There are a bunch of them every day, and I know that I’d never decide to move, or not move, to a place just because of one silly story.

    • Amy MacKay February 16, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      Thanks George!

    • George February 17, 2013 at 10:26 am

      You, sir, might not decide to move somewhere because of one story. Others might. Still others might see this story and begin asking uncomfortable questions that would then lead them to decide to live somewhere else, or do business somewhere else, or hire someone to work for them from somewhere else.

      You’re marking and marketing yourselves as a redoubt for intolerance, conformity and authoritarianism in a world that is embracing personal freedom and diversity of expression. This was more than just “one ill-advised decision.” It reinforces pre-existing ideas about the sort of people who live in your “fine” community. It’s evidence of local culture — and because it’s viral, it’s going to be the strongest evidence immediately available to most people.

      I find your response instructive, though. It’s a “keep out” kind of statement — thinking about whether or not someone would decide to move or not move there based on this event. You shouldn’t worry about keeping free thinkers out, sir. We’re not moving to southern Utah in meaningful numbers. You should worry about the rest of us keeping you in.

  • Steve February 16, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I have lived all over the US and overseas. I recently moved to Southern Utah. Nothing in my 45 plus years of life has been more disturbing and/or disappointing than the judgment…the idea that if someone is a bit different then the Mormon norm they must be evil and bad. I have never ever imagined that in a place claiming to have special insight into happiness there would be so many teens committing suicide because they feel they are “licked cupcakes” and or unable to “repent”…I want to honor all faiths but this is a real sickness. Put people before beliefs Southern Utah.

    • Dd February 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      You should move back over sees

  • Amy MacKay February 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    My daughter expessed herself through her hair, she experiment with color mot drugs or sex. She is a honors student not so much as a tardy. The story really is as simple as it says. No hidden blue streak down the back no trouble at all. As a matter of fact when I was told to come get her I ask if hey even knew who my daughter was before that moment and the answer was “NO” so how distracting could that hair really have been? Also her hair was done professionally not a Walmart box like I was told to fix it with. They were pissed we wouldn’t conform. So be it. Stop bullying the kids and worry about real school issue say the Vice Principal bully.
    Come on WCSD parents write to the school board tell them you want the rule changed in what ever manner you deem fit but noes the time to do something. Our story has gone viral because it just plan wrong to deny an education on physical appearance. Not to mention they are teaching her how she looks is what matters most.
    [email protected]
    [email protected]hk12.org
    Send emails.

  • Katina February 17, 2013 at 9:47 am

    I have been watching this story and I have to say that it really irritates me. But at the same time, knowing who the principal and vice principal are, I can’t say that I am surprised. They are both prime examples of bad educators and need to be go and never work in Southern Utah or Washington County schools again. My hair has the same color in it, also professionally done, so I know that it is not a distracting color.

  • spectator in the cheap seats February 17, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I think it is time to call this states education system on the carpet…. For years now, the Ed system has always asks for more funding … They have received more funding , but where does it go to ??? . And to WASTE tax payers money on people managing a middle school is a good example . This school district does the same with school bus routes as well. Another fine example is children being bused from Leeds to S.G for school , versus busing them to Hurricane …. Just maybe , the District Admin. is sending a message ” Don’t color your hair… It will cause you will make stupid decisions later on in life ” Like we do everyday …..

  • pride February 22, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    It’s really a pride issue as well as total hypocrisy, the lord himself condemned such things yet there are many church members who gone there primarily to flaunt themselves their image ego etc. It is a sad day for southern Utah to be represented as such. In the end however, they will be caught with no “oil in their lamps “

  • Mark Halburn March 10, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Mr. Hoyt needs a clue, a hobby, and a life!

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