Chicago student whose hair was cut by school staff gets new boost to confidence

Sunday was a day of healing for a Chicago student.

In January, she said she unwillingly had her hair cut by two school employees. It left her with severe trauma.  

Today, a new beginning was generously donated by a nonprofit. 


Sophomore student Isamar Padilla said a school employee cut eight inches of her hair in late January after she said she struggled to put her long locks in a bun during an after school program. 

Since the incident at the Noble School Network's Speer Academy in Belmont Cragin, Padilla's mother Christina Maldonado said Isamar is fearful to go to school. 

"She was always bubbly, happy, ready to go to school and it's not the same the way it used to be," Maldonado said. "A lot has changed in her." 

Naperville resident, Jermaine Horton, founder of the Art of Confidence project, saw her story and jumped into action.

"We started this whole project to empower children of color and help them restore their confidence so whatever situation they're going through that they'll have the confidence to go through life and know that they're beautiful," Horton said.

He flew a hair artist in from Atlanta who could give Padilla what she had lost. 

"As women we look at our hair as a piece of beauty to us," Isamar said.

In addition to free hair extensions and makeup, Horton documented Padilla's journey in photos. 

"We're trying to let her know that she's not going through it alone that we're here for her," her father, William Padilla, said.

The school employees accused of cutting Padilla's hair have been placed on administrative leave.  The family is filing a lawsuit and the Chicago Police Department is investigating the incident as a battery.