US Father of Biracial Girl Who Had Hair Cut by Teacher Sues for $1M, Cites Emotional Distress
When Black men can't afford to teach, our children pay the price
All students deserve the benefit of a diverse teaching workforce and the opportunity to learn from Black male educators. A representative, racially diverse teaching workforce is within reach. With funding from the American Families Plan, we can support the kind of innovative programs that directly address the barriers to attracting and retaining great teachers. To do that, we must identify the unique barriers faced by BIPOC teacher candidates and implement targeted solutions to those barriers.
The father of a 7-year-old biracial Michigan girl whose hair was cut by a teacher without her parents' permission is suing for $1 million, citing emotional distress, according to the Associated Press.
Jimmy Hoffmeyer, the girl's father, is suing the school district, a librarian and a teacher's assistant, alleging that the girl's constitutional rights were violated. The suit also alleges there was racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery, MLive.com reported.
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Hoffmeyer said that a teacher had cut the girl's hair to even out the differing lengths a couple of days after a classmate cut her hair on one side, the AP said.
The suit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Grand Rapids against Mount Pleasant Public Schools.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
Hoffmeyer, who is Black and white, said Jurnee, his daughter, arrived home one day in March with much of the hair on one side cut off. Jurnee said a classmate at Ganiard Elementary used scissors to cut her hair on a school bus, Hoffmeyer told the AP 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.
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"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."
Jurnee's mother is white. 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.
The AP left messages Thursday seeking comment from the district, which 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.
In July, the Mount Pleasant Public Schools Board of Education said that the staffer who cut Jurnee's hair was reprimanded. The board also said that an independent third-party investigation determined that despite the "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.
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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 included interviews with district personnel, students and families and a review of video and photos, including posts on social media. District administrators also performed an internal review of the incident.
But Hoffmeyer said the district never questioned him or Jurnee. She now attends another school.
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Students have also held protests demanding that Cane Bay High School teacher Sara McClellan be fired over the incident.The Berkeley County School District said they are aware of a video which was posted on to TikTok which shows a female teacher at Cane Bay High School using the racial slur off camera while discussing words and objects which are "rooted in racism.