Parents see red over schoolgirl's suspension

A YEAR 10 student at St Mary’s High Gateshead said she would not return to the school after she was suspended yesterday because of her hair colour.

Celine Vipen said she was singled out at the morning assembly because she had dyed her hair red.

She said teachers told her it violated the uniform code but Celine and her parents could not find any reference in it to hair colour, only to extreme hairstyles.

The school said Celine was not suspended for her hair but a gross lack of respect and co-operation when asked about it.

Celine’s parents Ken and Shandelle Ellicott dispute this and said when the school contacted them they were told it was because of Celine’s red hair. They said teachers were worrying about trivial matters instead of teaching.

Celine, 14, said she put the same colour in her hair last year without issue. The difference is this year Celine, who has natural light brown hair, had dyed her hair blonde first. When she decided to return to the red the lighter base resulted in a brighter colour.

‘‘I’ll never go back there,’’ Celine said.

Mrs Ellicott said she was unhappy her daughter had been singled out in front of the school.

‘‘If it was short and spiky and pink and green and blue I would understand,’’ she said.

‘‘But it’s exactly the same colour as last year. This is just ridiculous.’’

Maitland-Newcastle Diocese director of schools Ray Collins said Celine was not singled out but rather directed from the back of the assembly after she became verbally aggressive.

‘‘The school had no intention of suspending the student because of her hair,’’ he said.

‘‘If a sense of co-operation was displayed by the student, the school would have worked out a staged process to bring her more in line with the school’s policy.’’

Mr Collins said in response to parent feedback the school implemented a more consistent stance on uniforms in 2012 and had advised parents.

‘‘The school rules are that hair colouring must be of a natural hair colour,’’ he said.

‘‘To make an exception for one student is simply not fair.’’

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