Fairfax County police are investigating an alleged attack on a sixth-grade girl by three boys Monday at the private Christian school they attend in Springfield, Va.

The 12-year-old girl, who is African American, told police that three white sixth-grade classmates held her down, covered her mouth, called her insulting names and used scissors to cut several of her dreadlocks from her head during recess in the playground at Immanuel Christian School.

“I was about to go down the slide, and the three boys came up and surrounded me,” the girl said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “They were saying my hair was nappy and I was ugly and I shouldn’t have been born.”

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Lakeisha Allen, the girl’s aunt, said she noticed Wednesday that her niece’s hair was damaged and asked her what had happened. Initially, her niece did not want to explain how her hair had been cut, but she eventually told her aunt about the attack. She also said the boys had been bullying her at school and taking her lunch for weeks. According to Allen, her niece was afraid to tell teachers about the incident because she feared retaliation from the boys and also didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.

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Allen and the girl’s grandmother, Cynthia Allen, who is the girl’s legal guardian, contacted police on Wednesday and reported the incident to the school. Lakeisha Allen said that in a meeting at the school Thursday, administrators told her they are looking into the incident.

“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,” Stephen Danish, Immanuel Christian’s head of school, wrote in a statement. “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.”

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In its statement, the school said it has asked law enforcement to investigate the allegations and referred all questions to the Fairfax County Police Department. In a separate email reply to a Washington Post question, the school said all of the parties involved in the incident are remaining out of school while the police conduct their investigation.

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A Fairfax County police representative said an investigation is underway and did not provide a timeline for its conclusion.

Immanuel Christian is a private K-10 National Blue Ribbon school with 469 students. Just under half the pupils are students of color, according to information provided by Immanuel officials. African American students account for 11 percent of the school population. Tuition for middle school students is $11,500. Vice President Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, teaches art part-time at the school to students in grades one through five.

Allen said she wants the boys to be punished for their alleged actions. Her niece agrees that there should be repercussions for the boys but said she also had sympathy for them.

“I felt hurt and angry, but I also felt compassion for them because something must have happened to them and that’s why they bully,” the girl said.

She said she plans to return to school Monday.

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