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Girl with Red Hair Denied School Pictures, Gets Pro Shoot

— December 9, 2019

School wouldn’t allow girl with red hair extensions to get school pictures, so a professional photographer stepped in.

Professional photographer and father of a 7-year-old, Jermaine Horton, drove with his daughter more four hours from Chicago to Michigan to photograph Marian Scott, 8, who school officials told wouldn’t get a third-grade photo this year because of her red hair extensions. Administrative staff at Paragon Charter Academy in Jackson County denied Marian’s photo shoot.

“When you feel that way, that your daughter was singled out, or you feel that her confidence was struck so bad to where she’s coming home in tears and, you know, as a father, it gets to you,” Horton said. “So, I was just glad that I was able to reach out, and we were able to make it work.”

“She was so fierce in those photos,” he said. “I mean and she was on it.  She was so on it.  I was like, ‘You go girl.’ “

Girl with Red Hair Denied School Pictures, Gets Pro Shoot
Photo by IIONA VIRGIN on Unsplash

Horton’s friend Pamela Blackman, CEO of Joy Management Inc., and her daughter Mieka Joi, CEO of clothing brand Rich Girl Candy, offered Marian a free wardrobe.

Principal Ben Kriesch said the girl’s hair extensions “violate school policy” and the handbook calls for “hair color of natural tones.”

Marian’s father Doug Scott called the incident “upsetting.”  He added, “All of this is uncalled for, they didn’t even call us.  They let her stay in school.  So, if she’s not a disruption to the class, then why is she a disruption to the picture?…If they would have reached out to us and say come get her… she’s got a hair issue, we need you to change it, that’s not allowed – I would have been fine with why this happened, but they didn’t reach out to us.”

The school indicated that a recorded message was sent to parents the Sunday before photos were taken discussion the dress code, but Scott said he never received it.

“Had I seen the email, I probably would have told Marian’s mother to not do it, but I guess I think it’s good that this happened because now people are going to get the opportunity to see what is really going on,” he said.

Marian said she felt singled out. “I felt sad, and everybody else got to get their pictures except for me,” she said. “And some of my friends were laughing and stuff like that.”  But Horton’s shoot made her “happy,” Marian said. “I got to be myself.”  Now she has professional pictures that are well-beyond the school’s standard shoot.

“She’s a natural,” said Horton. “She’s a beautiful little soul.”

Marian now goes to a public school.  Scott said he believes the decision to not allow Marian to have her picture taken may have been racially motivated. “There were two kids this year who took pictures with Mohawks, and one had green in his hair.  My daughter’s one of the darkest in the school, and even some children that were light-skinned black like myself, they had different colors in their hair, and the school allowed that.”

Of Horton’s shoot, Scott said, from “an ugly incident came beautiful people.” He added, “But the ugly help feed us to a lot of good folks and a lot of great people that have just shown us that the world isn’t ugly and it’s not, you know, it’s just not as bad as people think it is.  There are people out there that care, and it is amazing.”


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