January 3, 1997 in Nation/World

Student Returns To School - Without Black Lipstick

Associated Press
 

A 13-year-old girl who had been suspended from school for wearing black lipstick returned to class clean-lipped Thursday, and her attorneys went to court to file a lawsuit against the school.

Karla Chapman, out since Nov. 13, returned to Runyon Elementary School so that she could be considered a student in good standing and be transferred to a nearby school that doesn’t prohibit black lipstick.

Karla, whose parents said she tried suicide during her suspension, said she looked forward to blending in. “I’m happy to know that whenever I transfer schools, nobody will be on my back about what I wear,” she said.

Karla first was suspended for three days but was turned away three more times when she showed up with the black lipstick. Her alleged suicide attempt was in early December, after she tried purple lipstick and was turned away.

Her story drew reporters’ calls from as far away as Germany and landed her on Montel Williams’ television talk show.

“Karla is an individual,” said her mother, Connie. “She’s a good kid. … She chose to wear this makeup, and it’s no biggie. It’s just a trend.”

Karla’s lawsuit, written with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, says the school’s dress code, under which Karla’s lipstick was declared a distraction, is too vague.

The lawsuit seeks a change in the code, punitive damages and medical expenses.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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