A father from Michigan has filed a million-dollar lawsuit against a school district, its librarian, and teacher's assistant for cutting his daughter's hair without consent. The family is claiming assault and battery.
Jimmy Hoffmeyer, who is of mixed race, sued Mount Pleasant Public Schools in a Grand Rapids federal court for violating the constitutional rights of his daughter, Jurnee, 7, who attended Ganiard Elementary. He also claimed "racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress."
In March, Jurnee's father was shocked to see her come home with her curly hair cut on one side. The child told her dad that a classmate did the cut inside the school bus. The family filed a complaint with the school and went to the salon to restyle Jurnee's hair, but she came home two days later to find that the other side of her hair was unevenly cut again.
Hoffmeyer reminded his daughter, whose mother is white that she shouldn't let a child do her hair. However, Jurnee told them the library teacher did it this time with the help of her assistant to "even out" her hairstyle. In both incidents, the lawsuit highlighted that the people who messed up Jurnee's hair were white.
The Mount Pleasant Public Schools board members said that the teacher who cut the child's hair was reprimanded despite her good intentions. School officials also told the staff involved that they cannot cut students' hair without the parents' expressed permission or the knowledge of the school administrators.
The board said an independent third-party investigation into Ganiard Elementary took place in April, which allegedly didn't find any basis for Hoffmeyer's racial bias claims. The probe included interviews with students, families, and school district personnel and a review of videos and photos shared on social media.
Two workers in school were aware of what happened but didn't file a report with the administrators. The employees involved, on the other hand, have apologized to the family, but Hoffmeyer said that no one from the investigating panel interviewed him or his daughter to conclude that this complaint had no basis.
Amy Bond, the president of the school board, said that they will defend the "baseless allegations" in court and will not allow the lawsuit to distract the school from its mission to educate the children.
Hoffmeyer has enrolled his daughter in another school for the new school year. According to reports, only four percent of the 25,000 residents within the Mount Pleasant school district are Black.
Statement Shows Consent
In April, a statement allegedly from the school district was shared on Twitter indicating that Jurnee consented to both incidents. She asked a classmate to cut her hair on the bus, but Jurnee was "unhappy and dissatisfied" with the outcome because she was not an accomplished stylist. She later also asked the staff at the school library to fix her hair when she visited the site a few days later.
Mt. Pleasant Public Schools acknowledged on Tuesday that one of its employees cut the hair of a mixed-race child and its superintendent says she's apologized to the family for it. #JusticeForJurnee pic.twitter.com/9jBkDgnmmu— Brian Clark (@bdclark23) April 21, 2021
The staff had experience as a cosmetologist and owned professional tools. She has worked more than 20 years in school and has never had any bad record until this incident.
However, Hoffmeyer's lawsuit detailed a different side of the story, saying that the library staff should have declined to even out Jurnee's hair or asked her parents' permission first. The dad said that the school staff's actions were not acceptable despite her intentions and showed a lack of judgment.
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