Teen Cancer Survivor Disciplined For Wearing Hat At School: Chloe Terpenning Spent Days In Principal’s Office

Cancer survivor Chloe Terpenning spent days in the principal's office rather than remove her hat.

A teenage cancer survivor was sent tot he principal's office for wearing her hat.
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Cancer survivor Chloe Terpenning spent days in the principal's office rather than remove her hat.

A teenage cancer survivor has been disciplined for coming to school wearing a hat, and she has chosen to sit in the principal’s office all day rather than follow the school’s strict dress code.

As The Hawk Eye reports, 15-year-old Chloe Terpenning of Burlington, Iowa, came down with stage two Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March. She began undergoing chemotherapy, and as happens with many chemotherapy patients, she started losing her hair.

When she was well enough to return to school, she went back to Burlington High School with her hair in its natural state. It didn’t go well, says the teen.

“I was constantly harassed, threatened and bullied because of my hair.”

After a week of bullying, she transferred to another school in the small, southeastern Iowa city. She chose to wear wigs to her new school, West Burlington High School, but that didn’t work out for her. They interfered with gym activities, she says, and they even inhibited her hair growth.

Rather than go bald and face bullying, Chloe chose to go to school wearing a hat. Specifically, a knitted beanie made especially for cancer patients.

School administrators, however, are having none of that. WBHS’s dress code is clear: no hats, no hoodies, nothing covering the head. And no exceptions.

What’s worse, says Chloe’s mother, Candice Osslund, Principal Bruce Snodgrass has been less than helpful.

“[He] compared it to a bad haircut.”

Rather than allow Chloe to wear her beanie, he says she needs to either go back to wearing wigs or “take baby steps” and “set goals” so she can “get acclimated” to showing up to school with short hair. Chloe refuses.

Last Monday, she showed up at school wearing her beanie, and only got a few feet past the door before Snodgrass stopped her. He told her she could remove the beanie or go sit in the office. She chose the office.

“In the office, it is a very small room and I don’t get any lessons in there. I just get the assignments and am expected to have them done the next day. And the door’s wide open. So anyone who walks by can see me sitting in there.”

She spent every day last week in the office.

On Monday, The Hawk Eye contacted Superintendent David Schmitt, who told the newspaper that he wants school officials to be allowed to interpret the policy on a case-by-case basis. For the moment, it appears that Snodgrass is only willing to give just a little, and he’s allowing Chloe to wear a bandanna until Christmas break. After that, she’ll have to back to wearing wigs or her natural hair. Otherwise, she can continue to sit in the office.