An Iowa high school disciplined a cancer survivor for wearing a hat at school.
Chloe Terpenning, 15, lost her hair while undergoing chemotherapy after she was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin’s lymphoma, reports the Burlington Hawk Eye.
After students at a previous high school bullied and harassed her, Terpenning was determined to hide her bare scalp.
She started wearing a gray, knit beanie specifically made for cancer patients after suffering from headaches and other difficulties because of a wig.
Yet in the beginning of December, that hat landed her in West Burlington High School's principal's office where she was forced to stay so long as she wore the beanie.
As a result, instead of attending class, she spent a week with Principal Bruce Snodgrass.
"In the office, it is a very small room and I don’t get any lessons in there," Terpenning explained. "I just get the assignments and am expected to have them done the next day. And the door’s wide open. So anyone who walks by can see me sitting in there."
School officials told the student she could only don a bandana or kerchief until Christmas break, but that when she returns, she must wear a wig or nothing at all or else she will have to sit in the office again.
Terpenning is determined to change the school dress code.
The 15 year old started a petition on Dec. 8 "to put an end to this policy for future cancer patients and current cancer patients," amassing 5,502 online signatures as of Dec. 12.
After the incident received widespread attention, the school issued an official apology.
"West Burlington Independent School District apologizes to Chloe for our insensitive approach to dealing with her hair loss," Superintendent David Schmitt said. "It was an error of judgment on our part and we regret making this mistake. The school district has taken action to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We hope Chloe will accept our apology and be able to move forward."
Schmitt also said the policy will be open-ended and Terpenning can continue wearing her knit hat. The teen, her mother and the superintendent will also meet on Dec. 15 to discuss the situation.
Though the school district also emailed Terpenning an apology, the young woman was unimpressed.
"I need a sincere apology from [Principal Bruce] Snodgrass, [Associate Principal Mike] Jones and the superintendent, not an email," she said, adding, "I’m not moving on. I’m fighting for future patients."