After a mother in Jones County, Miss., wrote a viral Facebook post Tuesday claiming that her son’s elementary school principal called him into the office and chopped off his locs, school officials launched an investigation into the matter, reviewing security-camera footage and interviewing administrators, staff and students.
The Jones County investigation, which appears to have taken all of a day (authorities shared their findings with WDAM-TV on Wednesday), concluded that the story was a “total fabrication.”
“We found absolutely no evidence that there is any proof whatsoever that his allegations of having his hair cut at school exist,” Superintendent Tommy Parker said.
The story captured national attention Tuesday when the boy’s mother, Lattrice Averette, wrote a Facebook post alleging that North Jones Elementary School administrators cut her 11-year-old son’s hair against his will.
According to Averette’s post, her son, T.J., said that he was called out from class and told to go to the principal’s office without being given a reason why. Once he got there, he says, the principal sat him down and forcibly cut portions of his hair.
Before the incident, T.J. says, his school’s guidance counselor had admonished him about how his locs covered his face, and had told him to fix it.
As Averette told WJTV-TV, “She came to his classroom and saw that he still had his hair in his face later on that day.
“She told him to go to the office, and she walked him to the office where they had him sit down,” she continued. “The office ... the school counselor held his shoulders as the principal, he says, cut his hair.”
When T.J. returned from his school, his locs were clearly cut unevenly, as photos and videos show. He also had the shorn locs in his hand, which he showed his mother upon returning home.
But Superintendent Parker, pointing to a two-hour block of surveillance footage, told WDAM that couldn’t be the case.
“I spent two hours watching minute-by-minute video today to see if there was an occasion that the student that’s made the accusations against the school’s principal was at or near the school office,” Parker said, pointing to a section of the screen that he says was recorded right outside the principal’s door.
The two-hour block of time that Parker focused on was the time that T.J. claimed he was called into the principal’s office.
“In the time frame he said he was at the school office, there is no video evidence that he was at or near the school office at any time,” he told the local news outlet. He says that he also interviewed other students and teachers at the school and reviewed footage from T.J.’s school bus.
In saying that T.J. had “fabricated” the story, Parker absolved North Jones Elementary School of any wrongdoing, and said he won’t discipline any of the school’s employees.
But if no one at the school is responsible, as Parker claims, then it’s still unclear how T.J.’s hair was cut in the manner that it was.
Meanwhile, Averette is so upset about the incident on Monday that she’s taken her son out of school.
“I needed something to be done, and I wanted some justice for my son,” Averette told WDAM Tuesday. “He is autistic, suffers from ADHD and post-traumatic stress because of this school. I needed some help. Since that time, I have been to the police department. I have pressed charges with the justice court against the school’s principal as well as the school’s counselor.”