Somerset students punished for pink hair in support of teacher diagnosed with breast cancer

Somerset ISD: Pink hair violates district policy, goes against dress code

Author: Tim Gerber , Reporter,
Published On: Oct 10 2012 10:19:28 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 11 2012 01:58:31 AM CDT

Three Somerset High School seniors learned the hard way that there are limits to showing their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing pink.

The teens were asked to leave the campus or sit in suspension when they showed up with pink hair.

The teens said they were just trying to support one of their teachers.

Gilbert Manchaca said he wanted to support his Spanish teacher Esperanza Casey, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

She was depressed about losing her hair, so he suggested she get a pink wig and said he'd dye his hair pink, too.

"She's basically like a second mom to us. She took really good care of us," Manchaca said. "I was very touched and sad when I found out about it."

Manchaca and two of his friends didn't get the response they expected when they showed up to school with pink hair last Thursday.

"They said, 'You got to dye it back or you're not allowed back in school. You're a dress code violation,'" Manchaca said.

"I thought they'd be pretty supportive about it. I didn't think they would give me a hard time," said Sean Pisseri.

Tyler Hernandez said he agreed to dye his hair pink for Casey, but was also doing it in memory of a grandmother who died from breast cancer.

"It's not like we're trying to do it to be jerks or something. We're supporting our teacher. We're supporting our loved ones for a good cause," Hernandez said.

All three seniors were told they'd be given in-school suspensions until they removed the pink dye.

"Pink hair just goes against school policy," said Maury Vasquez, a spokesman for SISD. "These aren't bad kids. These are good kids; good kids trying to show good intentions in a show of support for their teacher."

Vasquez said school administrators understand the students were just trying to be supportive, but they went about it the wrong way. Their hair violated the dress code.

"Once it crosses the line and violates the code and policy that's the part that can't be tolerated, Vasquez said.

During the month of October, student athletes have been allowed to show their support for breast cancer awareness by wearing pink for their games.

"They're using pink shoe laces, pink tape, pink wristbands," Vasquez said. "There's a lot of pink that our athletes are sporting on Friday nights right now in support of breast cancer awareness."

All three students finally agreed to remove the dye and returned to school Wednesday. But they give the school an 'F' for the way they handled the situation.

"At least take it into more consideration instead of just bringing down the hammer and saying no," Hernandez said.

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.