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Flame-red hair to dye for

Rarely has a bad-hair day affected so many people.

When Brenda Lucas, an 18-year-old senior at Bourbon County (Ky.) High School, experienced one, it almost kept her from attending her graduation ceremony and caused weeks of bad press for her principal and the local school board.

Her problems began with some Manic Panic "flame red" hair dye. Ms. Lucas says she had used the dye before and never got the bright orangeish-red result she produced three weeks ago.

"It was a lot brighter than I expected," she said. "I wasn't trying to violate the [school's] dress code."

That code specifically states that "all students should have hair styles that are clean, neat, and well groomed. ... Hair may be dyed to natural colors."

Principal Orin Simmerman told Ms. Lucas that if she didn't get her hair fixed, she wouldn't be able to attend school or her graduation ceremony.

Ms. Lucas quickly called the Lexington Herald-Leader, and the story became front-page news.

The flap ultimately was resolved when Mr. Simmerman suggested that Ms. Lucas get her hair lightened at the Hair Mart across the street from the school. Ms. Lucas took that advice and, on May 28, with her hair now a deep auburn, she graduated with the rest of her class.

But some lingering frustrations remain.

"What is the story here?" Mr. Simmerman said. "It's a simple dress-code violation. All I wanted was for her to adhere to the dress code. That's all I asked."

Ms. Lucas agreed that the whole ordeal had been "silly," but said her principal was to blame for blowing it out of proportion. "There are so many other things schools need to be dealing with," she said, "like the school violence that has been happening."

"I'm just glad it's finally over with and settled somewhat easily," she added.

--Candice Furlan

Vol. 18, Issue 39, Page 3>

Published in Print: May 26, 1999, as Take Note

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