Madison Smith had to stay home while the rest of the 180 eighth-graders from Stephen Mack Middle School in Rockton, Ill., received their diplomas Tuesday night.

Madison Smith had to stay home while the rest of the 180 eighth-graders from Stephen Mack Middle School received their diplomas Tuesday night.

Her mother, Connie, says it’s because Madison dyed her hair blue the night before graduation. The Rockton School District’s dress code does not allow hair dye that will disrupt or distract from educational activities.

Superintendent Jean Harezlak would not comment on why Smith was not allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony.

“We are upholding district policy. We’re following the rules,” Harezlak said. “It’s an individual student discipline matter. It wouldn’t be proper to talk about the incident publicly.”

“I thought, school was over. It’s just for one night,” Connie Smith said. “I just don’t think it should be an issue.”

Madison’s dye job was done Monday night as a graduation present. Commencement rehearsal was Tuesday morning. She was approached by administrators and told that she could not participate. She waited in her seat until she was told to go home.

“I was caught off guard. I was excited to go with all my friends and get my diploma,” she said. “It makes it seem more official. I think it’s cool. I still have my diploma from fifth grade. I want to know why I can’t be there because of my hair.”

She dyed her naturally brown hair close to a dozen times before she moved into the district at the beginning of this school year. “I’m not being vindictive, this is not to get back at them. I like to dye my hair.”

“She’s not a delinquent,” her mom said. “She’s a good kid. She’s never been disciplined for behavior or other reasons.

“It should be a parent’s choice, not the school’s choice, who can have their hair dyed. It’s terrible that a couple of adults decide that a girl can work eight years for something and they won’t let her get her diploma. What is she supposed to do now?”

Rockford Register Star