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Sticky Situation: It Isn’t Easy to Enforce Hair Spray Ban at Schools

March 6, 1991

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ The never-ending quest for ″big hair″ created with the help of spray has raised a cloud of controversy as middle school students smuggle in the contraband cosmetic.

About a third of Broward County’s 29 middle schools prohibit hair spray on campus, but students say hard-core users are still smuggling it in.

″They’re constantly in the bathroom with hair spray,″ said Christine Selvaggi, a seventh-grader at Seminole Middle School in Plantation. ″Some kids complained because it leaves a terrible smell in there. We’re really not supposed to, but everybody brings it in anyway.″

″I think it’s really unfair because, you know, the teachers at our school, they’re not really interested in making themselves up or whatever,″ eighth- grader Shelley Kuntzman said of the ban, which began at Seminole this school year.

″I spend 30 minutes doing my hair. If you don’t get to spray it to where it will hold, there’s no point in doing it in the morning before school,″ Shelley said.

She uses a non-aerosol spray, because it’s not harmful to the environment. But it also doesn’t hold as well, so she needs to spray more often.

Twice, the physical education teacher at Seminole has taken away her bottles, she said.

Seminole students have lots of theories about the ban.

They figure some students are allergic to hair spray and couldn’t breathe. On top of that, students occasionally sneak a forbidden smoke in the bathroom, which could be dangerous around a cloud of hair spray, they said.

″If someone lights a cigarette in the bathroom, plus the hair spray, it kind of like explodes,″ seventh-grader Anika Omphroy said.

That theory was news to Cecil Austin, assistant principal at Seminole. Administrators were more concerned that students might spray their classmates, either deliberately or by accident, he said.

School Board policy states that hair should be combed only in restrooms. ″Curlers and other hair-grooming aids″ are forbidden.

Different principals interpret those words in different ways. Those who have banned hair spray take the same position as Austin: It could injure other children.

Still, some students continue to stash trial-size bottles in their purses.

At Margate Middle School, which has banned hairspray for years, girls sometimes use it outside, said Lisa Bay, an aide at the school.

She said she was not surprised at the surreptitious squirts.

″You know how they’re wearing their hair 10 feet high these days,″ Bay said.

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