Rochelle LaPlante arrived at Northeast High School for her second day as a member of the senior class, not knowing if she would be allowed to attend class or face suspension for her hair, which is a non-traditional color: purple.
On Thursday, when she arrived for her first day of classes, she was told her hair color was not acceptable, with specific reference made to her working in the school office as an aide. The implication was that purple hair and the school office weren’t a good mix, despite the fact that she is an excellent and well-liked student and perfectly capable of doing the job.
This morning (Monday), though, she arrived to silence from school administrators on the issue of her hair.
“No one said a word,” Rochelle said, noting that criticism was conspicuous by its absence. Rochelle moved through her day peacefully, including office time spend delivering items to staff mailboxes. “It was as if they didn’t even want to look at my hair,” she said. After all the hoopla over her color purple, “nothing happened,” Rochelle said. “At least, not yet.”
Kelly LaPlante, Rochelle’s mother, was pleased that Thursday’s verbal warning to Rochelle was apparently rescinded, but said she is “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Mrs. LaPlante said she “would not be surprised to see the issue emerge again,” but this time as a change in dress code policy systemwide regarding hair color, with recommendations for uniform enforcement should a policy be established. Current school dress codes do not address hair color and leave judgments about appropriate dress to the “discretion” of administrators.
Mrs. LaPlante said that she and her daughter would have no problems conforming to a hair color policy that would be implemented enforced systemwide. “But the way it was presented to Rochelle last week was grossly unfair. That was selective and discriminatory.”