$1 Million Lawsuit Filed Against Mount Pleasant Public Schools

The father of a 7-year-old Mount Pleasant girl whose hair was cut by a teacher without her parent’s permission has filed a $1 million lawsuit against Mount Pleasant Public Schools, a librarian and a teacher’s assistant.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday at a Federal court in Grand Rapids and alleges that the girl’s constitutional rights were violated, along with racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery.

In March, Jimmy Hoffmeyer, who is biracial, said that his daughter Jurnee came home from Ganiard Elementary with much of her hair on the side of her head cut off. He says Jurnee told him a classmate used scissors to cut her hair on a school bus.

Two days after the incident, and complaining to the principal about having Jurnee’s hair styled at a salon with an asymmetrical cut to make the differing lengths less noticeable, she arrived home with her hair on the other side of her head cut.

She then explained to her father that it was her teacher that cut her hair to even it out.

Jurnee’s mother is Caucasian, and Hoffmeyer says the girl who cut Jurnee’s hair and the teacher who also cut it are both Caucasian.

According to the lawsuit, 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.”

In July, Mount Pleasant Schools Board of Education stated the employee who cut the girl’s hair was reprimanded and that an independent, third-party investigation determined that despite the good intentions of the employee who cut the girl’s hair, doing so without permission from her parents and without knowledge of district administrators violated school policy.

Additionally, they say two other employees were aware of the situation, but didn’t report it. Since then, the school board says all three employees have apologized.

Furthermore, the school board says the investigation found no racial bias and included interviews with district personnel, students and families. It also included a review of video and photos, including social media posts. District administrators also performed an internal review of the incident.

The girl’s father says the district never questioned him or Jurnee. He says Jurnee now attends a different school.