An Ottawa teacher has been sent home after he was accused of cutting the hair of a seven-year-old student with autism at school without permission from the boy's mother.
Parent Miriam Brandon said she had been getting regular phone calls from her son Dominic's teacher for weeks.
The phone calls weren't about homework or curriculum, she said. Rather, the teacher at Regina Public School in Ottawa's west end wanted Brandon to cut her son's hair, which was down to his shoulders.
The special needs teacher complained that Dominic, who has autism, was chewing on his hair and that it covered his face.
When Brandon asked her son if she could cut his hair, the boy refused, saying he wanted to grow it out "to touch the ground."
Teacher said son gave permission
Since her son's hair seemed to be so important to him, Brandon decided to let it grow.
"I didn't think it's hurting anyone for him to grow his hair out, so when a teacher kept persisting that I cut his hair, I was like, 'I don't need to get his haircut. That's OK,'" Brandon said.
She was shocked when the teacher called her a few days ago, before her son arrived home, to tell her Dominic had given him permission to cut his hair.
"I know that my son would never say that it was OK, because he has asked me to never cut his hair," she said.
When her son came home there were thick chunks of hair missing from the sides of his face, as well as some cut from the back.
Brandon called the principal to complain.
"He's a teacher, not a hairdresser, and we didn't get any consent or anything," she said.
In a statement, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board said the haircut was "an unusual practice" and that it had placed the teacher on "home assignment" while an investigation takes place.
OCDSB issues apology
"We extend our apologies to the student and his family. The district continues to work with the family to ensure the best learning environment for the student," the school board said in a written statement.
Brandon has decided to move her son to another school after March Break, since she claims other teachers were in the classroom when her son's hair was cut and did nothing.
She also wants the teacher to face serious consequences.
"For a teacher to grab scissors and cut my son's hair, that takes away my son's voice, and it takes away my voice as a parent," she said.