The North Carolina mom of a 7-year-old girl with Down Syndrome is accusing a teacher of cutting off several inches of her daughter's beloved hair without her consent.
"Most of the time, she's always brushing her hair, always doing something with her hair," Jesslyn's mother, Jessica Stirewalp, told ABC News' Charlotte affiliate, WSOC-TV.
Stirewalp claims that a Millbridge Elementary School teacher in Rowan County, N.C., cut Jesslyn's hair in class on Friday.
"Her assistant teacher calls me and says, 'I hope you don't mind, but I cut your daughter's hair because she got food in it,'" Stirewalp said. "Of course, I got mad, but I asked her how much, and she said four inches."
Stirewalp says that she was shocked when Jesslyn got home from school.
"Instead of four inches, it was more [like] eight inches. And when she walked in the house, you could tell that she thought she was in trouble," Stirewalp told WSOC. "I mean, it hurts my feelings, and I know it hurts her feelings."
The mom said that she has heard conflicting explanations for why Jesslyn's hair was cut. She said the teacher initially told her on the phone that it was because of food in Jesslyn's hair. But a letter from the teacher said that Jesslyn wouldn't stop taking her hair down, so the teacher trimmed it, Stirewalp said.
When asked about the incident, school principal Christopher Smith told ABCNews.com, "I cannot comment on that." He directed questions to the Rowan-Salisbury School district spokeswoman, who did not respond to a request for comment.
Jesslyn's family said the haircut has changed the little girl.
"She would look at it and she would say, 'Pretty,'" her grandmother Mary Poole told WSOC. "She doesn't even get in front of the mirror anymore."