CHICAGO — A 15-year-old Noble Charter Schools student who was suspended from school because of her hair color will be allowed to return to class, the principal said late Friday.
Daisy Chavero, a freshman at Chicago Bulls College Prep on the Near West Side, was prohibited from attending classes this week after administrators at the school said her new hair color violated the school's policy, her mother told DNAinfo.
Noble Charter Schools has a policy regarding hair color that states: "Artificial red hair of any kind is not permitted." Dyed hair can only be a "natural human hair color," the policy reads.
But late Friday, the school's principal said she would reverse the decision to suspend Daisy. Erskine said the school strives to ensure policies are applied fairly "in every situation."
"I regret how this particular instance played out this week," Wendy Erskine, principal of Chicago Bulls College Prep, said in a statement. "Daisy’s family has been with Noble for many years, and we look forward to forward to welcoming her back to class on Monday."
"I recognize that the student attempted to make good-faith corrections in regard to our initial concern," Erskine said.
Hair color dilemma
In an effort to touch up her existing hair color, Angie Chavero dyed her daughter's hair at the beginning of the month. The color, called "dark auburn" on the box, came out lighter than expected because Daisy's naturally light brown hair had grown out, according to her mother.
After she was informed Daisy wouldn't be allowed to return to her regular classes because her hair color violated school policy, Chavero dyed her daughter's hair a second time over spring break. This time she used a brown shade in an effort to tone the hair down.
Chavero was shocked when an administrator at the school said Daisy would still not be allowed to return to classes, despite her new darker hair color "with some tints of red."
"It's ridiculous," Angie Chavero said earlier of the school's decision to suspend her daughter. "Supposedly, it's a distraction to the classroom."
Daisy was allowed to study in the in-school suspension setting but was not allowed to return to her regular classroom schedule until the hair color issue is rectified, a Noble Charter Schools spokesman said earlier Friday. The student received one detention to date because of the hair color, the spokesman said.
Daisy's mom said she thinks administrators unfairly targeted her daughter with the policy, a move that has "upset" her daughter.
Daisy, who has a 3.5 GPA and is a graduate of Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy, a public school in Little Village, has a learning disability that entitles her to an Individual Education Plan at her school, her mother said. Under federal law, her school must provide her with special education services, and Chavero said the in-school suspension violated her rights.
"While Daisy is independently working in a suspension room, the school is not providing her the free and appropriate public education with supports and services to which she is entitled," a spokesman for the Chavero family said earlier Friday.
"You are going to put a student that has no demerits, has never been suspended, has no discipline problems, who has good grades in a suspension hall with students that do have serious problems?" Chavero said. "I think it's ridiculous."
Chavero, a mother of five who lives in McKinley Park, said her daughter's hair is now dark brown with faint auburn highlights. Four of her children have attended Chicago Bulls College Prep.
"To me, when they say red, I think someone who dyed their hair bleach blond and then red. That's what artificial red means to me," Chavero said. "It's not fire hydrant red."
In front of the school Friday, Daisy Chavero said she worried that her grades will slip because she missed participation points in class.
"I've never done anything wrong, I just painted my hair. It hurts me... I didn't do anything wrong," she said through tears. "I don't think it's fair."
Daisy Chavero, a freshman at Chicago Bulls College Prep, speaks outside the school Friday. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]
Sarah Chambers, a Saucedo special education teacher who previously taught Daisy, said she believes Daisy was unfairly targeted by the charter school because she is a special education student. Chambers is currently embroiled in a battle to save her job as CPS moves to fire her, a decision the outspoken teacher claims is retaliation for standing up for the needs of her special education students.
Chambers said Noble administrators are "selectively" deciding when to enforce the handbook rule.
"This is how they treat students with disabilities...they try to criminalize them by suspending them for their hair color," Chambers said. "They try to push them out of the schools because they don't want to pay for them."
Cody Rogers, a Noble Charter Schools spokeman, called Chambers' accusations "extraordinarily unfounded."
"We heavily dispute any of those unfounded accusations and look forward to setting the record straight on special education in the future," Rogers said.
Julie Contreras with the League of United Latin American Citizens called the punishment "unacceptable."
"She's not a drug dealer, she's not stolen anything, she hasn't cheated on a test," Contreras said. "The only thing [Daisy] is guilty of is trying to look pretty."
Pastor Emma Lozano, a community activist, called on the principal to reevaluate the "exaggerated clause" in the handbook that she says leaves too much open to interpretation.
"It says unnatural hair colors, which I am assuming is lime green and smurf blue and those colors, maybe even fire engine red, but not this very warm auburn color that many of us sport," Lozano said.
Parents or guardians sign an agreement acknowledging the policy at the start of school, Rogers said.
Daisy Chavero's hair before her mother dyed it this month. [Angie Chavero]