An 8-year-old Michigan student was left in tears after she was not allowed to participate in school picture day because of her dyed red hair extensions.
Marian Scott, a student at Paragon Charter Academy in Jackson County, was thrilled when mom Latoya Howard gave her colorful red braids, something she’d been asking for for a while.
“Marian couldn’t stop staring at herself in the mirror,” Howard told Today Parents. “She kept saying, ‘Thank you mom!’ over and over again.”
Marian’s excitement, however, was short-lived. The hair she was so thrilled about had her barred from getting her school picture taken, as it violated school policy.
“It’s upsetting,” dad Doug Scott told NBC affiliate WILX. “Her hair is done in a bun, it’s braided into a bun, it’s just uncalled for to pull them to the side … Marian didn’t leave out the house, go down the street, and go get this done on her own. She’s 8 years old, we did this ourselves in our own home, and there’s just no way I felt like this would happen.”
Scott told Today that Marian was forced to stand in the hallway as the rest of her classmates had their photos taken, and was told she was unable to represent the school.
Paragon’s handbook states that all students must be in school uniform for picture day, or they will not be allowed to have their photo taken. The handbook also notes in the dress code section that “Hairstyles must be conservative … Hair color must be of natural tones.”
Paragon Principal Ben Kriesch told WILX that students who violate the policy have a week to correct their violation, which is why Marian was able to stay in class after being denied her photo.
The school also told the outlet that it had sent out a recorded message to parents ahead of picture day reminding them of the dress code policy, though Scott claims he never received it.
“If they at least would’ve reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, come get her, she’s got a hair issue, we need you to change it, that’s not allowed, it’s in the handbook,’ ” he said. “They didn’t even go to those extents. They let her stay in school. So if she’s not a disruption to the class, then why is she a disruption to the picture?”
Marian’s parents told WILX they will not be removing her from Paragon, but hope that administrators will be clearer in communicating moving forward.
School spokesperson Leah Nixon tells PEOPLE in a statement that the handbook clearly outlines the school’s policies.
“We take great care to ensure our families are well-informed about this policy, and also work closely with students and their parents if there’s a concern,” the statement reads. “We understand the importance of good communication in helping strengthen the partnership we have with our families, and will continue to make this a priority to create a school environment where everyone is valued and has their voice heard.”