The father of a 7-year-old girl from Michigan, US whose hair was cut by a teacher without her parents’ permission has filed a $1 million lawsuit. The lawsuit against the school district, a librarian and a teacher’s assistant was filed on Tuesday, September 14 this week, in federal court in Grand Rapids against Mount Pleasant Public Schools, according to reports. The suit alleges that the biracial girl’s constitutional rights were violated.
It also alleges racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery. The bi-racial dad, Jimmy Hoffmeyer, said that in March 2021 that his daughter arrived home from Ganiard Elementary with much of the hair on one side of her head cut. The daughter, Jurnee said a classmate used scissors to cut her hair on a school bus, Hoffmeyer told The Associated Press in April.
Two days after the bus incident and after complaining to the principal and having Jurnee’s hair styled at a salon with an asymmetrical cut to make the differing lengths less obvious — Jurnee arrived home with the hair on the other side cut too, which angered the dad. “I asked what happened and said ‘I thought I told you no child should ever cut your hair,'” Hoffmeyer said at the time. “She said ‘but dad, it was the teacher.’ The teacher cut her hair to even it out.”
Hoffmeyer said the girl who cut Jurnee’s hair and the teacher who cut it are white. The district “failed to properly train, monitor, direct, discipline, and supervise their employees, and knew or should have known that the employees would engage in the complained-of behavior given the improper training, customs, procedures, and policies, and the lack of discipline that existed for employees,” according to the lawsuit.
In the district which is located about 150 miles northwest of Detroit, about 4% of Mount Pleasant’s 25,000 residents are Black, according to the U.S. Census. In July, the Mount Pleasant Public Schools Board of Education said the staffer who cut Jurnee’s hair was reprimanded and that an independent third-party investigation determined that despite “good intentions” of the worker who cut the girl’s hair, doing so without permission from her parents and without the knowledge of district administrators violated school policy.
Two other employees were aware of the incident but didn’t report it. All three employees have apologized, the board said. The school board said the independent investigation found no racial bias and that District administrators also performed an internal review of the incident. But Hoffmeyer said the district never questioned him or Jurnee. He has now transfered his daughter to another school.