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7-Year-Old's Mom Speaks about Cut Braid

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Yesterday, we told you about the girl whose teacher cut off her braid as a disciplinary measure.

girl with cut braid

Today, ESSENCE.com has an exclusive interview with the girl's mother. Here is a sneak peek:

ESSENCE.com: Tell us what happened.

HELEN CUNNINGHAM: My daughter went to school. It was the Monday after Thanksgiving and she had gotten her hair beaded over the vacation. She was twirling her beads in her hair and her teacher told me that she advised her to not twirl her beads. Lamya kept doing it and her teacher told her if she kept doing it, she will hold her back from recess. She told me that she did hold her back from recess and after recess Lamya still kept twirling her beads. This is when the teacher called her to the front of classroom.

My daughter told me that her teacher told her that she was going to give her some candy. When she came up to the desk, the teacher grabbed the scissors and grabbed a braid and cut it off. She then told her, if you keep doing it, "I am going to cut some more." My daughter started crying because her classmates were laughing at her.

ESSENCE.com: What was your first reaction?

CUNNINGHAM: When my daughter came home from school she said, "Mom, my teacher cut my hair." I didn't believe her because I couldn't see a teacher doing a thing like that. So I said, "I am going to call the school tomorrow and find out what's going."

I called the school and talked to the school social worker. She said, "I haven't heard anything like that... a teacher cutting off a kid's hair. You might want to call the teacher and ask her if it's true." So, I went to the teacher's room in person. She admitted that she was frustrated that my daughter would not stop twirling her hair. She also told me that she held her from recess because she kept playing with her hair. And then, she said, "She kept doing it so I cut her hair." She said she just cut the end of her hair. I looked at my daughter's hair, because it is very long, and was like, "that's at least three inches gone from her head." And she said, "Well, I cut it and she said if she keeps doing it, then I will cut some more," while standing there like what she did is not wrong.

ESSENCE.com: What do you think should happen to the teacher?

CUNNINGHAM: Actually, Milwaukee Public Schools (MTS) have not done anything against the teacher. I called the Milwaukee Child Welfare Bureau and I went to the police department and they did give her a $175 citation for disorderly conduct.

For the rest of the interview, go to ESSENCE.com.



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24 comments so far | Post a comment now
jen December 16, 2009, 12:53 PM

I would be livid if a teacher touched a hair on my child. That is just way over the line!!

Sam December 16, 2009, 12:57 PM

That is absolutely insane. In my opinion that constitutes assault/battery. What right did she have 1) to touch your child let alone 2) physically discipline your child.

Emily December 16, 2009, 1:17 PM

oh please! Sue this woman at the very least. If it were my daughter that teacher wouldn’t be teaching anymore. this is not a suitable punishment. time sitting in the hall or being sent to the office would have been suitable. Sounds to me like the teacher was just irritated over poor Lamya playing with her hair and made a horrible decision. and that decision should cost her. Even if it was an extension/microbraid it still wouldn’t be right. It’s not her property. Next thing you know this teacher would be out keying cars because she didn’t like how someone parked, or kicking someones dog for barking at her. i hope Lamya’s mother pushes this and follows through on the possibility of a lawsuit.

Monica December 16, 2009, 1:30 PM

@Sam Yea my first thought was that they should have charged her with assault/battery. What is to stop her from doing it again to another kid. Or crossing the line even more. You don’t touch a child. This seems like the kind of person who when annoyed finds a way to get back at the person by hurting them. And that is what she did with the little girl. She tricked and taunted her in front of the class knowing that they would laugh at her. You don’t deliberately humiliate a child. I would evaluate if she really needs to be a teacher.

kim December 16, 2009, 1:42 PM

this so called teacher should be FIRED! 1. she physically put her hands on a child
2. humiliated child in front of peers
3. appears to think what she did was ok & she’d do it again(anger issues??)

The school board should be reprimanded as well for not taking some kind of action. The soon to be ex-teacher should be made to publicly apologize to the child & family(not that it would make a difference). My child would NOT go back to this class

We tell children they are to trust certain adults & this person completely violated any trust with the child whatsoever. What else has this teacher done that another child that may be too timid to tell?

Queen Mommy December 16, 2009, 1:44 PM

Ah, Mother, what is the question? There is none! This is clear cut assault/battery, emotional abuse of a minor, and public humiliation — OF YOUR FLESH AND BLOOD! Why would you ever wait til morning or gain some concensus or cooperation for anyone abusing your child! You, file charges. You, call the press conference on the steps of the school board. You, become this woman’s back wart until she resigns, is fired, or undergoes a year of anger management, classroom management, unpaid leave, and mental health treatment.

Now that is my very mature mother of five (ages 17 to 35) answer. Now the real me which reveals the content of my heart towards all child abusers: I would arrange to have the left side of her head shaved off and post the video on YouTube. Maybe then she would have a taste of public humiliation and body violation that your daughter felt.

Ok, will go to confession, but Lord, if ever this would have happened to one of my four girls I would be the last parent counseling session that teacher would have had.

jan smith December 16, 2009, 2:29 PM

This teacher needs to FIRED today! what is the school thinking allowing this behavior. She should be charged with battery. I hope this mother keeps pushing it until something is done against this teacher. Who knows what she is capable of next!

Stefanie December 16, 2009, 3:08 PM

People look at me funny when I say that I want to homeschool my kids.

smoore December 16, 2009, 4:38 PM

the mother should have cut a plug of hair out of the teachers head and gave her $174

Anonymous December 16, 2009, 7:04 PM

I’m a teacher and I’m appalled by this. She gives teachers a bad name. Just because you have a degree does not mean you should be working with children. I’ve dealt with horrible teachers myself and it doesn’t seem to matter what my profession is, I still have to deal with some tough teachers. If they don’t have anger management skills they shouldn’t be teachers. There are too many loving, caring, qualified people that can do the job right.

Hudha December 16, 2009, 7:14 PM

WOW!! Who in the world does that “teacher” think they are!??!!

My omg! that is distgusting..the teacher had NO right to do what they did!! that just makes me sick.

That little girl is so beautiful, just look at her…..how could a so called “TEACHER” do such thing or a so called “HUMAN BEING” for that matter.

sharon December 17, 2009, 12:02 AM

the teacher had no right to cut the child’s hair especially for a public punishment. I think the teacher should be fired, seeing how she can’t control her on actions

Kelly December 17, 2009, 12:22 AM

Well, I don’t care how much of a little “smartie pants” a child is being, you don’t cut the child’s hair. In MY state when children are in the custody of the state, whoever is fostering those kids STILL HAS TO GET PERMISSION from the parents before cutting their hair. If a child is repeatedly and/or blatantly refusing to follow instructions given by the teacher of his/her classroom, then you send that child to the principle. If you choose to cut the child’s hair instead, more power to you but, you’re going to be looking for a new job. Uh huh. Folks, once this teacher is relieved of her position just think of it as a blessing in disguise, because there has to be a WHOLE LOT WRONG with someone that would over-step boundaries THAT FAR! Ummm Hmmm. If the school board doesn’t do their job and relieve this witch of her position, then I hope the mother can and will obtain an attorney and sue the school system. I’m tired of teachers thinking they can man-handle our children; that’s why there are Deans and Principles, and Security Officers, and the Police. There are steps to follow and authority figures in place to handle situations like this. Personally, I think this teacher is either predjudiced against children (because face it people, little kids will always try to push beyond their boundaries; it’s called trying to grow up and gain control) or she’s prejudiced against people of color. There are just SO MANY different ways that this could have been handled that would have been better than what this teacher did.


Kelly December 17, 2009, 12:25 AM

Well, I don’t care how much of a little “smartie pants” a child is being, you don’t cut the child’s hair. In MY state when children are in the custody of the state, whoever is fostering those kids STILL HAS TO GET PERMISSION from the parents before cutting their hair. If a child is repeatedly and/or blatantly refusing to follow instructions given by the teacher of his/her classroom, then you send that child to the principle. If you choose to cut the child’s hair instead, more power to you but, you’re going to be looking for a new job. Uh huh. Folks, once this teacher is relieved of her position just think of it as a blessing in disguise, because there has to be a WHOLE LOT WRONG with someone that would over-step boundaries THAT FAR! Ummm Hmmm. If the school board doesn’t do their job and relieve this witch of her position, then I hope the mother can and will obtain an attorney and sue the school system. I’m tired of teachers thinking they can man-handle our children; that’s why there are Deans and Principles, and Security Officers, and the Police. There are steps to follow and authority figures in place to handle situations like this. Personally, I think this teacher is either predjudiced against children (because face it people, little kids will always try to push beyond their boundaries; it’s called trying to grow up and gain control) or she’s prejudiced against people of color. There are just SO MANY different ways that this could have been handled that would have been better than what this teacher did.


Carol December 17, 2009, 12:58 AM

I think that what the teacher did was wrong! I believe that the teacher should have to take some kind of anger management classes, or maybe offer to pay to have your daughter hair redone.

Anne Wood December 17, 2009, 11:04 AM

The most infuriating part — which seems to be entirely overlooked — is that it’s NOT developmentally appropriate to expect a 7-year-old child to sit for extended periods of time. This girl was punished for a reasonable response (boredom) to an unnatural, ineffective learning environment. The main lessons kids absorb in such stifling environments are mindless obedience, to passively wait to be told what to learn, and that learning is a tedious chore. :-{

Public education needs a complete overhaul, incorporating what we’ve learned the last few decades about how kids learn best. Meaningful learning only happens when kids are truly engaged and enjoying themselves!!


carolyn b.hollihshed December 17, 2009, 6:11 PM

People R losing their minds But I am tired of them messing with little innocent kids what have they done to any one They are the only people who are gifted & harms no one leave the sweet lottle angels alone

carolyn b. hollinshed  December 17, 2009, 6:21 PM

Okay the childs hair was probably loking better If I was the childs mother I would have cut hers to there should be serious concerns about teachers messing with children . What gave her the right she should of been held in account for that .Now watch nothing was done to her $ 175. shes going to do it again .That was only a slap on the wrist

Dorothy Hysten December 17, 2009, 7:39 PM

THE TEACHER SHOULD BE FIRED NO IFS AND OR BUTS

Anonymous December 18, 2009, 12:49 PM

I’m sure the mother will try to sue


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