10/24/2012 01:45 am ET

Nicholas Acosta, Texas Student, Was Bullied By Teacher Jenny Salazar, Who Tied His Long Curly Hair In Pigtails, Parents Say

The parents of a six-year-old North Texas boy claim their son was left feeling humiliated after his teacher tied his hair in pigtails in front of his first-grade class at Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Grand Prairie.

KTVT reports that Nicholas Acosta would not stop playing with his long curly hair during Mass, and the pigtails were his teacher’s “way of fixing him, bullying my son, harassing him and embarrassing him in front of the students,” according to the boy’s mother, Erica Acosta.

School Principal Linda Santos told the family that the offending teacher, Jenny Salazar, was reprimanded and will be evaluated closely while the incident is investigated. In the meantime, Salazar sent a letter of apology to the Acostas that read:

I am deeply sorry for Nicholas’ hair in pigtails after he tossed his hair during Mass….I was just trying to get his attention to understand that we need to act reverent in Mass. What I did was wrong and was not meant to humiliate him whatsoever. After reflecting on the incident, I understand what I did was in poor judgement, and it will never happen again. I am asking that you forgive me for my mistake.

However, the parents claim the letter — and the fact that Salazar remains in the classroom — has done little to help their son’s psyche. Nicholas is reluctant to go back to his first-grade class for fear the teacher will embarrass him again. He told his mother he wants to have “normal hair” that is straight, like the rest of his friends’ hair.

According to KTVT, the Acostas say they will likely have to remove Nicholas from Immaculate Conception Catholic School if Salazar is not removed from the classroom.

While bullying tends to represent a student-on-student offense, reported teacher bullying incidents appear to be on the rise as of late. Last month, a teacher at Millbridge Elementary School in Rowan County, North Carolina, cut off eight inches of seven-year-old Jesslyn Stirewalp’s hair. The girl’s mother, Jessica Stirewalp, said she received a phone call from Jesslyn’s assistant teacher, who told her that she had cut about four inches of the girl's hair "because she got food in it.” However, Stirewalp also received a letter from the teacher offering a conflicting explanation: she “trimmed [the hair] up” after Jesslyn “would not quit taking her hair down."

In Georgia, Towns County High School Spanish teacher Lynn Swanson ignored repeated warnings to stop using a scented candle that triggered severe allergic reactions in 16-year-old Danielle Nguyen. Danielle says she failed her Spanish class last year because the regular reactions led to breakouts and agitation, and the treatments caused drowsiness and contributed to her inability to focus in class. Towns County Schools Superintendent Melissa Williams declined to comment on whether or how Swanson could be punished



Teacher Controversies