An American school has been slammed after they punished a cancer survivor for wearing a beanie to cover her hair loss.

On March 2, 15-year-old Chloe Terpenning from the town of West Burlington in southeast Iowa was diagnosed with stage 2 Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

She underwent biospy, bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy and radiation, losing her hair as a side effect from the treatment,

But this month her school, West Burlington High, punished the cancer survivor for a dress code violation.

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The 15-year-old didn't make it far past the school doors before Principal Bruce Snodgrass stopped her and sent her to the office.

The school told her she couldn't wear her beanie that hides her hair because "it's not fair to other students", Terpenning told KWQC.

For two and a half days Terpenning was forced to sit in the office and was banned from going to class because she refused to take her beanie off.

"Other kids wear it just for style, or because they want to. I'm wearing it because it's comfort, security, and self-confidence.

"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," she said. "So anyone who walks by can see me sitting in there."

Chloe Terpenning broke down in tears after she was punished for wearing her beanie to cover her hair loss folowing chemotherapy. Photo / KWQC
Chloe Terpenning broke down in tears after she was punished for wearing her beanie to cover her hair loss folowing chemotherapy. Photo / KWQC

The school then said when she returns following the Christmas break she could either wear a wig or nothing.

Her mum, Candice Osslund, was outraged at the school saying they compared her daughter's situation "to a bad haircut".

Terpenning has been at the high school for less than a year after she was bullied at her previous school.

"I was constantly harassed, threatened and bullied because of my hair," she told The Hawkeye.

West Burlington High School has since backtracked on its stance, apologising to Terpenning, but called the ordeal a simple "misunderstanding".

Chloe Terpenning has already gone through hell and back after fighting off cancer, but now she's having to fight her own school to restore her pride. Photo / KWQC
Chloe Terpenning has already gone through hell and back after fighting off cancer, but now she's having to fight her own school to restore her pride. Photo / KWQC

"We've made a public apology about that and we just feel terrible for Chloe and we're trying to make this right,' says David Schmitt, West Burlington Independent School District Superintendent.

However, Terpenning believes the apology isn't genuine, saying they only changed their stance after media questioned the chool.

"I do accept the apology but then again I don't if that makes sense because nobody should have to go through this much just to bring a point across."

Chloe started an online petition to force the school to change it's policy to allow for leeway when it comes to headgear for current and future students with cancer.

It has has garnered more than 17,000 signatures.

The school say they'll meet to discuss Chloe's petition.