Girl fights do-or-dye battle with school

By Chris Evans

Ninth-grader Tara Mueller thought it would be cool to dye her hair green for the first day of school.

The folks in charge at Johnson Junior High School in Melbourne didn’t.

green-haired-mug-shot-tara-mueller

Tara Mueller

Before she could get to her first class Monday, Johnson officials banished Mueller, 14. They say they won’t let her return until her hair is a shade less disruptive, she said.

“I think it’s stupid,” she said. “Kids are doing worse things than dying their hair.

“I’ll probably keep my hair the way it is and go to a different school.”

But first, Mueller said she will fight the school for the right to dye.

Armed with her mother’s blessing, Mueller plans to return to school today —green hair and all.

Johnson officials could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

Brevard County School District spokeswo­man Ann Mittman said schools can set dress codes. The codes are written by committees of students, parents, teachers and administrators.

In the past, these codes have resulted in students being suspended until they change their appearance. For example, a Titusville High School student was suspended in 1993 because he wore baggy pants.

“Whatever those codes are reflect the views” of the school, Mittman said. “If a student’s dress is viewed as being disruptive or inappropriate, the school has to take the appropriate action.”

Tara Mueller’s mother, Melbourne resident Ilone Mueller, said the code goes too far.

“Dress code means clothes to me,” Ilone Mueller said. “She is a good student. She does not give any problems. She is not in a gang. She is not a drug taker. She gets good grades. They ought to be thankful that they have children who are willing to come to school every day.”

Further, she balks at the idea that the color green on a person’s head could be disruptive.

“Back-talking  is  disruptive,” Ilone Mueller said. “Profanity, speaking out in class is disruptive. This is not disruptive.”

Beyond returning to school today, Tara Mueller and her mother have no definite plan of action.

However, they say they might hire an attorney or contact the American Civil Liberties Union for help.


This story appeared Aug. 22, 1995, in Florida Today.