iStock(SPRINGFIELD, Va.) — A black sixth-grader apologized to her school on Monday, admitting that she had falsely accused white classmates of pinning her to the ground and forcefully cutting her dreadlocks.
According to her family, Amari Allen lied last week when she said classmates at Immanuel Christian School, a private school in Springfield, Virginia, called her hair “ugly” and “nappy” while they pinned her down and cut her dreadlocks during recess.
Allen and her family met with school officials earlier on Monday before releasing a statement and apologizing to the wrongly accused boys for all “the damage” the story had caused.
“To those young boys and their parents, we sincerely apologize for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused,” the family said in a statement released 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.”
The story sent shock waves through the school community, where the vice president’s wife, Karen Pence, teaches art part time. School officials said the situation reminded them that the school is “not immune from the effects of deep racial wounds in our society,” according to a statement released Monday.
Allen claimed the incident happened during recess on Monday at a time when teachers and administrators weren’t around. She said three male classmates pinned her down to a slide on the playground, held her hands behind her back and clipped her dreadlocks with scissors, she said.
She also accused the boys of covering her mouth to muffle her screams.
“I felt hurt but also angry,” Allen told Washington, D.C., ABC affiliate WJLA-TV on Thursday. “Why would they do this? … Is it only me that’s being affected?”
She said she waited three days before telling her family because she was afraid of possible retaliation.
“When I held it in, I felt like a weight was being added to my shoulders each day that I held it in,” Allen said last week.
The Allen family filed an incident report with the Fairfax County Police Department, which told ABC News last week that it had launched an investigation, and had called for the boys’ expulsion.
It did not say how the falsehoods came to light on Monday, but the family said it was ready to “take responsibility” and face the potential consequences.
“To the broader community, who rallied in such passionate support for our daughter, we apologize for betraying your trust,” the family said in its statement. “We understand there will be consequences, and we’re prepared to take responsibility for them.”
“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,” it added.
Immanuel Head of School Stephen Danish struck a similar tone in a statement released on Monday afternoon, saying he looks forward to the “long season of healing” that’s ahead.
“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 said. “We view this incident as an opportunity to be part of a learning and healing process, and we will continue to support the students and families involved.”
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