US & Canada

Black student recants accusation that white boys 'cut her dreadlocks'

The grandmother of Amari holds up her shortened hair Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The 12-year-old earlier claimed she did not tell her family, fearing retaliation

A 12-year-old African-American girl who accused three white peers of cutting off her dreadlocks has recanted the allegations, according to the school.

Amari Allen last week claimed the boys had insulted her hair and attacked her.

Her family apologised "for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused" in a statement given to the BBC by the Immanuel Christian School.

The case made national headlines as the US vice-president's wife teaches part time at the school.

A spokeswoman for the Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia, told the BBC that officials met the Allen family on Monday morning.

Ms Allen acknowledged the claims she made were false.

"To those young boys and their parents, we sincerely apologise for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused," the Allen family said in a statement.

They apologised to the school for "the damage this incident has done to trust within the school family and the undue scorn it has brought".

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Media captionSpeaking last week, the girl said she was held down as her dreadlocks were cut

"To the broader community, who rallied in such passionate support for our daughter, we apologise for betraying your trust. 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."

The head of the school, Stephen Danish, said in a statement that Immanuel Christian was "relieved to hear the truth" but felt "tremendous pain for the victims and the hurt on both sides of this conflict".

"This ordeal has revealed that we as a school family are not immune from the effects of deep racial wounds in our society," Mr 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."

Image copyright Google Maps

When Ms Allen's grandmother noticed her hair was suddenly at different lengths on 25 September, Ms Allen claimed that three white classmates attacked her during break time.

She alleged the boys "ambushed" her, covered her mouth, held her down on a slide and began cutting off her hair.

Ms Allen also told local media that the boys called her hair "ugly" and stole her lunch, telling her to "just starve".

Local police and the school were investigating the incident.

The school, which costs Ms Allen's family almost $12,000 (£9,800) a year, is where Karen Pence - the wife of Vice-President Mike Pence - teaches art part-time.

Mrs Pence resumed working at the school earlier this year, amid scrutiny over its anti-LGBT requirements of staff.

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