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'He was in tears' - Boy sent home from Auckland school for 'not wearing enough pink' during anti-bullying campaign

An Auckland boy was sent home without supervisor permission for not wearing enough pink during an anti-bullying campaign day according to his mother.

Pink Shirt Day is a Mental Health Foundation initiative which, according to its website, "aims to create schools, workplaces and communities where all people feel safe, valued and respected."

Today, many organisations joined in the anti-bullying campaign, including Helensville School in Auckland.

But in an ironic twist, one of its 12-year-old pupils was sent home without his parents' or the principal's knowledge after he was told by a team leader, he wasn't "wearing enough pink."

His mother, Claire Lealiifano told 1 NEWS her son had walked the 10 minute journey home from school at about 9am.

"He walked home... I was in my kitchen getting ready to go out and I heard a knock at the door," she said.

Surprised to see her son, he explained he had been sent home to change.

A member of staff had tried to reach Ms Lealiifano with an online message about why he was being sent home, but she didn't see it until after he returned home.

She said she took her son back to school at about 9.30am and went straight to the principal's office.

"The deputy and the principal were not aware he’d been sent home until we arrived at school," she said.

She said she didn't feel the subsequent meeting "got her anywhere" after being told that "mistakes happen."

An apology was offered by the principal who suggested the boy take the day off.

Chairperson of Helensville Primary School Board of Trustees, Daniel Makin, confirmed to 1 NEWS that the incident happened at about 8.25am and that it was being investigated by the school and the principal. 

"We need time to follow due process," he 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," Mr Makin said. 

Ms Lealiifano said it was a distressing experience for her son.

"He was in tears for the entire meeting," she said.

"He’s quite down at the moment, he’s not eaten all day. He just sat in his room dwelling on it to be honest.

"We even went out and brought him his favourite pizza and he didn’t eat it," she said.

Ms Lealiifano said she had asked if any other children had been sent home to which she was told there were not, although noted there "were lots of kids in mufti - and not even with pink on."

The school have confirmed to her they are reviewing their policies.

Ms Lealiifano intends to make a formal complaint about the teacher involved.

A 12-year-old boy was sent home from Helensville Primary School today for "not wearing enough pink" on Pink Shirt Day.
A 12-year-old boy was sent home from Helensville Primary School today for "not wearing enough pink" on Pink Shirt Day. Source: 1 NEWS