Speaking to reporters last week, a 12-year-old black girl appeared terrified and distraught as she recounted how she was attacked by three white sixth grade classmates. They held her down, cutting her dreadlocked hair and called it “ugly” and “nappy,” she said.
Now, she and her family say none of it ever happened.
Both the girl’s grandparents, who are her legal guardians, and Immanuel Christian Academy, the elite Christian private school she attends, issued statements on Monday addressing the incident, reports the Washington Post:
“To those young boys and their parents, we sincerely apologize for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused,” the grandparents wrote in a statement sent to The Washington Post by the school. “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.”
“We understand there will be consequences and we’re prepared to take responsibility for them,” the statement continued. “We know that it will take time to heal, and we hope and pray that the boys, their families, the school and the broader community will be able to forgive us in time.”
Immanuel Christian’s principal, Stephen Danish, sent out a statement to the school’s parents and community members confirming the allegations were false and thanking the Fairfax County Police department for its work investigating the allegations.
“While we are relieved to hear the truth and bring the events of the past few days to a close, we also feel tremendous pain for the victims and the hurt on both sides of this conflict,” Danish wrote. “We recognize that we now enter what will be a long season of healing.”
The girl’s allegations drew widespread attention and condemnation last week, in part because it followed several high-profile incidents in the last year involving black students being disciplined or punished for their hairstyles. One episode that enraged many was the case of a high school wrestler in New Jersey who was told his locs needed to be cut or he would forfeit his match.
The story also went viral due to Immanuel Christian’s high profile. Middle school tuition for the K-12 school costs just under $12,000 a year, and Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen Pence teaches at the academy part-time.