A father in Michigan has filed a $1 million lawsuit against his daughter’s school district, alleging the 7-year-old child faced ethnic intimidation and racial discrimination when a teacher chopped off her long golden curls without permission earlier this year.
When Jurnee Hoffmeyer, who is biracial, arrived at Ganiard Elementary the morning of March 24, her hair flowed down to the middle of her back. When she returned home the same afternoon however, her blonde locks were mostly chopped off on one side. She recalled for her father, Jimmy, in tears how a girl gave her the cut on the school bus.
He chalked it up to kids’ antics and took Jurnee to a stylist, who gave her a new hairdo in a bid to make the asymmetry appear intentional and trendy. But when Jurnee returned home after school just two days later, she was again in tears, this time because a librarian at the school lopped off the hair on the other side of her head.
This undated photo provided by Jimmy Hoffmeyer shows his daughter Jurnee Hoffmeyer before a classmate and a teacher cut her hair on separate occasions. Jimmy Hoffmeyer has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the school district, a librarian and a teacher assistant, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. The lawsuit alleges that the girl’s constitutional rights were violated, racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery.
“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 on Tuesday filed a $1.4 million lawsuit in federal court in Grand Rapids, which takes aim at Mount Pleasant School District, the librarian involved and a teacher’s assistant who did not report the incident. He alleged 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.”
Back in July, an internal investigation by the school district concluded the librarian did not act with racial bias, though the unidentified staff member was put on a “last chance” employment agreement, which means any future infraction will trigger her termination.
The district is located about 150 miles northwest of Detroit. About 4 percent of Mount Pleasant’s 25,000 residents are Black, according to the U.S. Census.