Urbana mother says principal told biracial daughter her hairstyle was ‘distracting’

URBANA — An Urbana mother says her five-year-old came home in tears last week after she claims her daughter’s principal told her that her hairstyle was ‘distracting.’

Alicia Taylor told News Center 7′s Jenna Lawson that her biracial daughter, Lybertie, has naturally curly hair which sometimes gets kinky when it’s brushed out.

On Thursday, Taylor said Lybertie came home and told her that her principal at Urbana Elementary told her that day that she would need to wear her hair differently from now on because it was ‘distracting.’

She said she feels her daughter was singled out in an act of discrimination.

“She doesn’t wanna go to school,” Taylor said. “I have to unfortunately talk her into going to school.”

Taylor said she believes her daughter is telling the truth. She says she doesn’t think her young daughter could make up the incident on her own and her emotion seemed sincere when her daughter told her about it at home.

“Big tears, snot running down her nose -- like you could tell she had been crying since school,” she said.

Taylor said she’s called the school multiple times and gotten no response from the principal’s office. She said the Urbana City Schools Superintendent did call her over the weekend, but she said she wasn’t optimistic that something would be done.

After Taylor posted about the incident on Facebook, the school district responded with a statement that didn’t confirm that the incident happened, but that they would investigate the claim.

“The Urbana City School District Board of Education takes all accusations of harassment and discrimination seriously and has policies and procedures in place to investigate and address such issues,” the statement said in part.

Urbana Superintendent Charles Thiel also added in a message to News Center 7 on Monday that there are no specific regulations for how a student should style their hair aside from ‘extremes in dress or grooming’ that are deemed disruptive can be addressed.

Taylor said she wishes that the situation would’ve been handled differently. She is asking for the principal to be seriously investigated.

She said she is making arrangements to take her children out of the school district.

Jenna Lawson

I grew up in Springfield and I'm a big fan of all things Springfield, including Schuler's & the Clark County Fair. A career in journalism never really was a serious thought until the end of high school. You just have epiphanies sometimes, and that's the only way I can explain why I got into this line of work – but I'm happier for it!