Mrs Roli Abayomi-Samuel, the mother of a seven-year-old primary two pupil of Pedrisi School, Ogoyo, Lekki, Lagos State, has asked the school authorities to return the shaved hair of her son.
The mother made the request following the receipt of a letter from the school, terminating the membership of the pupil and his three other siblings.
The school also refunded their fees.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the school and the woman were at loggerheads over the circumstances surrounding the shaving of a part of her son’s head in the school.
Abayomi-Samuel told our correspondent that she made the discovery when he returned from the school with his siblings on Friday, January 18, 2019.
She stated that upon enquiry, her son told her that he woke up to the shaved head while he was in the classroom.
The mother of four explained that the boy explained that it was his classmate who drew his attention to the shaved part.
She said, “My husband dropped the four of them off at the school that day. I was supposed to go and collect them, but I was very tired to drive. I begged that the school bus should bring them home. Immediately my son came in, I saw the shaved head. I was shocked.
“I quickly drove to the school and met with a teacher. The teacher said he saw the boy in the morning but his head was not like that then. The teacher said the incident probably happened on the playground. My son mentioned the name of one of his classmates. He said he was sleeping in the class when the classmate woke him up and mocked him over the shaved part.
“I went to the boy’s house. He said he did not do it. I asked my son if he went to the playground to play; he said no. The proprietress came to my house on Sunday and I asked her to investigate, but she did not do anything.”
Abayomi-Samuel, a caterer, said she did not let her children go to school the following Monday and Tuesday, adding she was surprised that the proprietress, who is also the principal, did not bother to call her to know why the children were absent.
She said she reported the case at the Ogombo Police Division on Tuesday evening and the proprietress was invited to the station.
She recalled, “The proprietress came with the class teacher and a nanny, but they denied knowing anything about it. A pupil was also invited. The boy told the DPO that the teacher had come to his house about the matter. He said he saw the pupil, who my son had identified to have shaved his head. Why would the teacher go to the boy’s house when she was not a police officer?”
The mother said the police eventually maintained that the head was shaved by the pupil on the playground, adding that she suspected the investigation was influenced.
She said the family allowed the children to return to the school on Monday, January 28 while hoping to get to the root of the matter.
She stated, “My husband took my children to school on Monday. When I went to pick them up in the afternoon, the principal gave me a letter and a cheque, refunding their fees. Since the incident occurred, she has not called to apologise. I need my son’s hair.
“I didn’t have the intention of withdrawing my children. Even when the matter was being investigated, I went to buy new uniforms for them because their uniforms are old. I am a mother; if I see something that annoys me, won’t I talk? The school claimed they learnt I wanted to withdraw my children; did I inform them? Now that they have returned the school fees, I also want my son’s hair. I don’t believe it was a child that shaved his head,” she added.
However, the school principal and proprietress, Isi Adigwe, said the management’s investigation revealed that the boy’s head was shaved by a pupil on the playground after the closing time.
She said, “On Saturday (a day after the incident), I called for a meeting with the staff members. From my investigation, I discovered that the incident must have occurred when the children were waiting for their parents to come and pick them up. The school closes at 2.30pm.
“I discovered that it must have happened on the playground when the boy was among his peers. A nanny was supposed to take care of them, but she was not with them. I gave the nanny a query and on Sunday, I went to the mother’s house. I told her that a child must have done it, but she did not listen to my explanation. She insisted it was an adult that did it.
“She and her husband reported the matter to the police. The police invited the class teacher, the nanny and me to the station. We all went there. The teacher and the nanny were released to me on bail after interrogation.”
The principal explained that they returned to the station the following day (Wednesday, January 23).
She said while the matter was under investigation, the victim’s mother came to the school to demand the withdrawal of her four children.
“On Thursday, January 24, the DCO (Divisional Crime Officer) came to the school and interrogated everybody that came in contact with that child. She asked us to call the pupils out randomly and they all testified that it was the boy, whose name the affected pupil mentioned, that shaved the head.
“The DCO then begged the woman to take it like that since it was a child that was being mentioned in the case. She warned that everybody should be vigilant and that children should not come to school with sharp objects. She also advised the school to check children’s bags.”
Adigwe said afterwards, the four children did not return to school, adding that the management learnt from parents of other pupils that Abayomi-Samuel did not want her children to attend the school again.
She said she decided to write to the victim’s father to grant the withdrawal because she felt the woman no longer had confidence in the school despite the outcome of the investigation.
“I wrote to inform her that if she didn’t want her children again in the school, we were ready to grant the request. We have taken full responsibility of what has happened. To show that we are sorry, we refunded the part payment of the school fees made by the children. Our teachers and I have been calling and pleading with her almost every day. We expect that she would come to the school for a discussion,” she added.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, denied that the school influenced the police investigation.
He stated that the hair was shaved by the pupil’s classmate while they were playing without any ulterior motive.
Oti said, “We received a complaint from the mother that her son’s hair was unlawfully shaved in the school and investigation was commenced. The DPO detailed the DCO to investigate the matter. The DCO visited the school and interviewed the boy’s classmates one after the other. All of them pointed at a boy who shaved the hair. Being a child, we cannot arrest him for doing that because he did not have any ulterior motive. They were playing at the school playing ground while waiting for the school bus when the incident happened. There is nothing to it and we advise that the mother should understand that children are like that.”