A mother in the UK is furious after her son's school asked her to sign a slip acknowledging her son made a racist remark after it (the school) interpreted a question by the boy on the playground as a "racist incident."
Hayley White, 29, says she was called to her son's school in Hull after he apparently asked a classmate, "Are you brown because you come from Africa?" The school believes the question by seven-year-old Elliot Dearlove wasn't innocent.
"When I arrived at the school and asked Elliott what had happened, he became extremely upset," White said, according to the Daily Mail.
"He kept saying to me, 'I was just asking a question. I didn’t mean it to be nasty' and he was extremely distressed by it all."
White said she was asked to read a copy of the school's zero-tolerance policy on racism, then told to sign a sheet of paper declaring her son was guilty of such an act.
"I was told I would have to sign a form acknowledging my son had made a racist remark which would be submitted to the local education authority for further investigation," she said.
"I refused to sign it and I told the teacher in no way did I agree the comment was racist. My son is inquisitive. He always likes to ask questions, but that doesn’t make him a racist."
The local city council, however, is standing by the school. "There is a statutory duty to report any incident that is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person," a spokesperson said in a statement.
Today, the mother of the other boy involved in the incident is speaking out, too. Nicola Allen is firing back that she never branded Elliot a racist, and feels she's being falsely accused of being behind the frenzy:
She said: "I don't want people going round saying I called that little boy racist.
"This is extremely distressing for me and my family."
Miss Allen said the row dated back to October when her son, who is of mixed race, came home from school upset saying another pupil had been asking if he was from Africa.
She said: "I sat him down and explained that he wasn't.
"I asked why he had asked this and his reply was that an older boy had said he was because he was brown.
"I was born in east Hull, I went to Griffin Primary School and he was born in east Hull, and as far as I'm concerned, we could not be more east Hull if we tried.
"Initially, I tried to brush the comment aside but it happened again.
"It was distressing.
"Eventually, I spoke to his teacher about it, I asked if they could speak to the other child and explain to him he was not African.
"I want to stress most vehemently at no time have I ever accused this child of racism.
White is now trying to get her son transferred out of the school.
The local member of parliament, Karl Turner, believes that "common sense" should make it obvious the boy wasn't being racist.
"[H]aving spoken to Hayley, I’m satisfied that her seven-year-old son, Elliott, was not being racist in his remarks but just inquisitive," he said, according to the Daily Mail.
"It seems the matter has been taken out of all proportion and common sense seems to have gone completely out of the window."
Common sense, though, doesn't seem to reign when it comes to allegedly racist incidents in UK schools. The Daily Mail reports that, just last year alone, more than 20,000 students aged 11 or younger were reported for hate crimes, which included such acts as using the word "gaylord."
Read the full story at the Daily Mail.
This story has been updated for clarity and with more information.