Updated Monday, Sept. 30 at 4:17 p.m. ET: The 12-year-old student who accused three sixth-grade boys of pinning her down and cutting off her hair says she fabricated the story.
“To those young boys and their parents, we sincerely apologize for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused,” the child’s grandparents wrote in a statement shared with the Washington Post. “To the administrators and families of Immanuel Christian School, we are sorry for the damage this incident has done to trust within the school family and the undue scorn it has brought to the school. To the broader community, who rallied in such passionate support for our daughter, we apologize for betraying your trust.”
The original story can be found below. The Root has removed the student’s name out of concerns for her safety.
Fairfax County Police are investigating a harrowing incident at a Northern Virginia private school in which three sixth-grade boys are accused of pinning down a black classmate on the playground and cutting off her hair.
A 12-year-old student at Immanuel Christian School, a private K-12 academy, says she had been bullied for weeks by the three boys, who had taken her lunch money and verbally abused her.
But she told WUSA TV their bullying took a terrifying turn on Monday, when the three sixth-graders, all of whom are white, attacked her on a school playground. Together, they pinned her hands behind her back, covered her mouth, and with a pair of scissors, cut off big chunks of her dreadlocks.
Throughout the ordeal, the boys called her hair “ugly” and “nappy,” and told her she “shouldn’t have been born,” the girl said.
Her grandmother is questioning why no one seemed aware of or tried to prevent the attack, which lasted about five minutes. She received no word about the Monday incident, or any prior bullying, until she noticed her granddaughter’s uneven hair on Wednesday. The girl denied that anything happened at first for fear for retaliation, WUSA TV reports, only telling the truth after her grandmother pressed her.
Her grandmother says she wanted to see the school’s anti-bullying policies implemented.
“It’s very painful,” the grandmother said the local TV station. “I want to see them dismissed from the school. I want to see something done.”
Immanuel Christian School costs the family $12,000 a year to attend (it is also, coincidentally, where Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, teaches twice a week). The school has a no-bullying policy in its parent-student handbook, which both defines bullying (“The deliberate use of power to dominate, intimidate and harm another person physically and/or emotionally over an extended period of time with no significant provocation or justification”) and expectations around bullying (“never harm others intentionally with words or actions”).
The family had a conversation with the school’s administrators Thursday morning, but don’t feel their concerns were taken seriously, ABC News reports. Questioned by WUSA TV about the girl’s accusations, Immanuel Christian responded with the following statement:
“We take seriously the emotional and physical well-being of all our students, and have a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of bullying or abuse. We are deeply disturbed by the allegations being made, and are in communication with the family of the alleged victim to gather information and provide whatever support we can. We have also reached out to law enforcement to ask them to conduct a thorough investigation, and further inquiries should be directed to the Fairfax County Police.”