UPDATE: The Allen family on Monday confirmed that their daughter’s allegations were false, issuing a statement: “To those young boys and their parents, we sincerely apologize for the pain and anxiety these allegations have caused. 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. 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.”
Additionally, the Immanuel Christian School commented: “We can now confirm that the student who accused three of her classmates of assault has acknowledged that the allegations were false. We’re grateful to the Fairfax County Police Department for their diligent work to investigate these 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. We recognize that we now enter what will be a long season of healing. This ordeal has revealed that we as a school family are not immune from the effects of deep racial wounds in our society. 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.We will also continue teaching what we’ve taught for more than 40 years: that the love of God is for all people, and as His children we should demonstrate that love equally to all people regardless of their background, what they believe, or how they behave.”
Amari Allen was about to use the slide at the Immanuel Christian School playground on Monday when three white classmates appeared. Within “seconds,” the 12-year-old claimed, she was pushed down, her hands held behind her back as the boys called her names and cut off patches of her “ugly, nappy” dreadlocks.
“One of the boys put his hand over my mouth so I wouldn’t scream while they used scissors on my hair,” she alleged to The Daily Beast on Thursday. "They were all laughing, calling me ugly, and saying I should have never been born.”
The alleged assault only lasted “a minute or two” before the bell rang to signal the end of recess, the sixth grader said. The three boys took off running to go into their math class while Amari stayed on the slide, trying to collect herself before following behind.
“They ran off laughing, and I was just sitting there,” the soft-spoken teenager claimed. “I’m hurt that it happened. All I want to ask them is, Why?”
The Monday afternoon alleged racist attack at the private Immanuel Christian School—an already controversial school where Karen Pence, the second lady of the United States, teaches art class part-time—has “destroyed” the Allen family, and they are now seeking legal and administrative retributions.
Amari’s mother, Cynthia Allen, told The Daily Beast that the family met with school officials on Thursday morning to demand the three boys be removed and updated policies be put into place to ensure “this doesn’t happen again.” Allen also said Amari filed a police report.
“We take seriously the emotional and physical well-being of all our students, and have a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of bullying or abuse. We are deeply disturbed by the allegations being made, and are in communication with the family of the alleged victim to gather information and provide whatever support we can,” the school said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “We have also reached out to law enforcement to ask them to conduct a thorough investigation, and further inquiries should be directed to the Fairfax County Police Department.”
“All I am asking for is this to be resolved, if they can’t leave school, then I will,” Amari said. Her mother agreed, adding, “She’s in real pain but she wants justice.”
The 53-year-old mom said it took two days for Amari to finally admit the alleged attack even happened. At first, the 12-year-old told her mother that the missing parts of her hair were the result of playing “beauty salon” with another friend.
“We continued to press her on it because it just didn’t sound like something she would do,” Cynthia Allen said. “Then she started breaking down crying, trembling, and shaking before telling us what happened.”
Amari said she “instantly felt better” when she told her family about how the three sixth-grade boys allegedly pinned her down on the playground. She claimed that while one boy covered her mouth, a second boy put her hands behind her back, and a third boy cut her dreadlocks while calling her names.
“They called her ‘ugly,’ told her she was an ‘attention seeker,’ called her hair ‘nappy,’ all of these horrible things,” her mother said. “And when they ran away laughing, she just had to sit there and get herself together.”
Amari said she initially denied that anyone cut her hair out of fear of retaliation. The three boys—including one that used to be her friend—are in six of her classes and she said she was afraid they “would come after me.”
“They had scissors, so they could have done anything to me,” the sixth grader said. “I was afraid if I told the teacher they wouldn’t care.”
Amari’s mom explained that this was not the first time her daughter had been subjected to bullying by these three classmates. Throughout the school year, the boys have allegedly been “taking her lunch every single day and calling her names.”
“My concern is, how did they not see what was taking place, on the playground and all year,” Allen said. “Karen Pence, the vice president’s wife, works at the school. There is security and secret service everywhere. How did they not know!”
The Immanuel Christian School, which enrolls kindergartners through eighth graders at its campus in Springfield, Virginia, has been previously embroiled in controversy after its school banned LGBT students and demanded all employees affirm the belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
According to The New York Times, the school’s employment application requires prospective teachers to describe their faith and sign their initials next to a list of beliefs, including Immanuel Christian’s definition of marriage and stances on sexual identity.
“I understand that the term ‘marriage’ has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman,” the application reads, detailing that certain “moral misconduct” considered disqualifying includes “heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female.”
Pence, 62, has had a long history with the school, having taught from 2001 to 2013 while her husband served in Congress. And in December, the second lady decided to return twice a week to the private school as an art teacher.
Cynthia Allen said despite the school’s recent controversies, she is more concerned with its future and said she is planning to speak to administrators further about preventing another racist attack.
But for now, she said, Amari will not return to school.
“Amari is surviving, but this can’t happen again,” she said. “She is terrified, she has not been able to sleep. And she is strong, I can’t imagine if this happened to somebody else.”