Exclusive: Child sent home from Helensville Primary School for not wearing enough pink on anti-bullying day

An Auckland school is investigating after a student was sent home from school for not wearing enough pink on Pink Shirt Day.

Friday is anti-bullying day and to show support people across New Zealand have been wearing pink.

But Claire Lealiifano told Newshub her son was sent home from Helensville Primary School after a teacher determined he wasn't wearing enough pink and should instead be in school uniform.

Lealiifano said she understood that students were to wear their uniform if they weren't going to go to school in pink.

"It was pink day so we sent the kids to school wearing as much pink as we could find. Obviously having a couple of boys, they don't have as much pink. [My son] managed to find a top which had pink all over the back," she told Newshub.

"I was just in the kitchen getting ready to go visit a friend, when I hear a banging at the front door which was my son pretty upset saying 'I have been sent home to change.'"

Lealiifano says not only were other students not wearing pink but her son had been sent home without any correspondence from the school.

"Anything could have happened to my son, anything. Him walking home on his own, me not being at home. He didn't have his phone on him."

She said her son was extremely upset and questioning what he had done wrong.

They also received an email from the teacher involved saying the child needed to dress in uniform and return to school or truancy officers would be contacted.

After telling the boy's father, a meeting was arranged with the school's principal. Lealiifano said during the meeting, the principal admitted the teacher was wrong to send her son home. The school would also look at its policies.

The young boy was excited for Pink Shirt Day.
The young boy was excited for Pink Shirt Day. Photo credit: Google Maps / Supplied.

She claims the principal said the child's T-shirt was pink enough to comply with the school's rules.

Lealiifano says she wants to know what will be done in response to the incident.

In a statement to Newshub, the school's Board of Trustees confirmed the incident happened at "only" 8:25am this morning.

"We need time to follow due process," the statement said.

"As you will understand we cannot comment on matters relating to individuals.  We can confirm we are taking this concern seriously and have sought advice so that we work through a fair and robust process that is in line with best practice.

"The school and Principal are investigating."

Pink Shirt Day began in 2007 in Canada when two students took a stand against homophobic bullying when a student was bullied for wearing pink.

The aim is to stop bullying by expressing diversity and creating a community that celebrates everyone.

It has been observed in New Zealand since 2009 and is led by the Mental Health Foundation.


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