Lower Richland High (WLTX) -- A 9th-Grade Mentor who works at Lower Richland High School was sent home Monday morning, because he says the school didn't like the color he dyed his hair.
Michael Rice says Lower Richland High School's principal called the mentor into his office shortly after the first block of the day ended.
Rice says Principal Marvin Byers told him his green hair color was "over the top." The mentor says he wore his hair colored with the Luck of the Irish in honor of St. Patrick's Day, March 17th. Rice says he just wanted to give fellow staff members and students a good-natured laugh.
"I had a lot of people saying, 'Wow, I can't believe you're getting sent home,'" Rice say, "But no one had anything negative to say."
Karen York, Director of Communications for Richland School District One, says that the decision to ask Rice to change his clothes was that of the principal's. She says if Byers felt Rice was not dressed professionally, that he was fully in his right to ask Rice to leave. She said no one else at the school wore costumes or dyed their hair.
However, Rice says he heard a lot of support from both students and co-workers.
"You know, I think it was in good taste," Rice says, "I don't see where it was worthy of me getting sent home. With all the things going on in the world today, I get sent home for hair coloring."
Rice says he supports the choice made by the principal, and he thinks it was fair.
"He has to lead by example," Rice says, "And he can't have staff bunking the system, if you will."
Rice's position as 9th-Grade Mentor is not written into the budget for the school next year. Rice says he works with a mentoring program that helps students prepare for college. He says he has been with the progrma for three years, and has worked with the 9th graders since they were in 7th grade.
"I want to keep my job," Rice said.
Rice worked for more than a year teaching English in Charlotte. A staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve, Rice also travelled overseas to Kuwait to teach English. He is the assistant coach for the Hopkins Middle School Girls' Basketball Team. He has been working with the Army for more than 14 years.
"It's not easy being green," Rice says.