CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) parent has filed a complaint with the College Board, which runs the SAT program.
Amber Barney said she dropped her daughter off at Garinger High School Saturday morning to take the test used for college admission. Minutes after dropping her off, she had to return to the school because the high school senior was denied.
"I'm very upset," the mother said. "This isn't OK."
The mother said the site coordinator said the daughter's hairstyle was different than the picture on the student's admission ticket, and that was the reason she was turned away.
The student, Alijah Barney, said she wasn't the only student turned away because of hair. She said about 60 other Garinger High School students were also denied.
"They were checking and basically sending everyone out the door, saying 'you can't take your test,' because one girl - she had braids in her hair for her picture, but the actual day of the test, her braids were taken out. One boy - he had cut his hair off and saying he couldn't take the test - it didn't match the picture," Alijah said.
The mother and daughter said this SAT was more than just a test, it was a pathway to a promising future.
"It felt like the end of the world to me, because it's really important," the student said. "I am missing out on a lot of things. My family doesn't have a lot of money for me to go to school."
The plan was to get SAT scores back early so the student could apply for scholarships by the end of the year.
"Me being a single mom, it's hard, so any little bit helps," Barney said. "So she missed some deadlines that she is not going to apply for to receive certain scholarships because she won't have her SAT scores back in time."
The mother believes different hairstyles shouldn't confuse testing site coordinators so they would admit the wrong person to take the test.
"I feel the staff is not trained," the mother said. "And they really caused a lot of kids and parents a lot of distrust and a lot of stress."
A spokesman for the Educational Testing Service sent a statement to WBTV.
"We appreciate your inquiry regarding this issue, until we find out more information, we want to reassure you that we take such reports very seriously and are investigating this complaint," the statement read.
CMS said it has nothing to do with the incident. A media specialist said the district didn't sponsor the event.
The mother would like some answers, while the student just wants to take her SAT.
"If we can set up a separate test date," Alijah said. "Because that's 60 people - that's enough to make up the whole new test."