Michigan dad sues school district for $ 1 million after daughter’s hair was cut without consent
Father of 7-year-old Michigan girl whose hair was cut at school without her parents’ consent filed a million dollar lawsuit against the school district, a librarian and a teacher’s assistant .
In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Grand Rapids federal court against Mount Pleasant Public Schools, Jimmy Hoffmeyer alleges his Métis daughter’s constitutional rights were violated. He is also suing for racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery.
Hoffmeyer, who is black, said in March that her daughter Jurnee returned from Ganiard Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Mich., With much of the hair on one side of her head cropped. Jurnee said a classmate used scissors to cut her hair on a school bus, Hoffmeyer told The Associated Press earlier this year.
“Jurnee had long, curly hair before it was cut,” says the complaint.
Two days after the bus incident – and after her father complained to the manager and took Jurnee to a salon to style her an asymmetrical cut to make the different lengths less obvious – Jurnee arrived home with her hair on. cut on the other side.
“I asked what happened and said, ‘I thought I told you that no child should ever cut your hair,'” Hoffmeyer said at the time. “She said, ‘But daddy, that was the teacher.’ The professor cut her hair to make it even. “
The district “failed to properly train, monitor, direct, discipline and supervise its employees, and knew or should have known that employees would engage in the behavior complained of given inappropriate training, customs, procedures and policies, and lack of discipline. that existed for the employees, ”according to the lawsuit.
In July, the Mount Pleasant School Board said the staff member who cut Jurnee’s hair had been reprimanded. The school board also said that an independent investigation determined that despite the “good intentions” of the employee who cut the girl’s hair, the employee violated school policy by cutting the hair. of the student without parental permission and without the knowledge of district administrators.
The investigation did not reveal any racial bias, the school board said. The investigation included interviews with district staff, students and families, as well as a review of videos and photos, including social media posts, the district said.
Other schools have drawn unwanted attention to controlling the hairstyles of students of color. In 2018, a high school student from New Jersey wasparticipate in a wrestling match. In 2019, an 11-year-old cheerleader in Colorado because she didn’t wear her hair in a ponytail like her teammates White and Latina. And two high school students from Texas in 2020 because they refused to cut their dreadlocks.
Amy Bond, the president of the Mount Pleasant school board, said Thursday that the district had not received the complaint.
“We are confident that the facts will prevail given our district’s appropriate and aggressive response to the incident and the findings of the third party investigation that has been conducted,” Bond said in a statement. “We will aggressively defend ourselves against these baseless allegations in court and will not let it distract us from our mission to provide every child with a world-class education that prepares them for college and a career.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.