Even if we try our hardest to make the world a safe and loving place, there is still much work to be done. Children are frequently picked on or teased at school for being different, but teachers and staff are expected to encourage their students to treat one another with love and respect. Unfortunately, this was not the case for Jurnee Hoffmeyer, a 7-year-old mixed girl.
In March 2021, Jurnee went to school in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and returned home distraught because another girl on the bus had cut her long, curly hair without permission. Her father brought her to the salon the next day to have her hair trimmed and groomed to their satisfaction, and he made sure to remind her that no student would ever be permitted to touch her hair again. Jurnee’s mother is white and her father, Jimmy Hoffmeyer, is mixed.
Jurnee returned home from school shortly after, distraught because her hair had been cut again, this time by a teacher. Her father was enraged. The story has now been picked up by news sites around the country and has received a lot of attention. In September 2021, Jimmy will file a $1 million lawsuit against the school system, a librarian, and a teacher’s aide for what occurred to his daughter. He aims to get his child justice and create awareness about the situation.
After his daughter’s hair was chopped without her permission, Jimmy filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Mount Pleasant Public Schools District, a librarian, and a teacher’s assistant on Sept. 14, 2021, according to Fox 2. The lawsuit claims that Jurnee’s constitutional rights were violated due to racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of mental distress, assault, and battery.
Jurnee had returned home from Ganiard Elementary School in March 2021 with much of the hair on one side of her head shaved by a classmate on the school bus. Jimmy took his 7-year-old daughter to the salon to get her hair done after filing a complaint with the school’s principal. The young girl’s hair was chopped again two days later.
“I asked what occurred and responded, ‘I thought I warned you no child should ever cut your hair,’” Jimmy explained. ‘But, dad, it was the teacher,’ she explained. Her hair was chopped to make it more even.” Jimmy first denied that race played a role in his daughter’s hair being chopped without her permission, but pointed out that the student and teacher who cut her hair were both white, but Jurnee is biracial. The educational district is mostly white as well.
According to Fox 2, the Mount Pleasant Public Schools Board of Education determined that the teacher who chopped Jurnee’s hair had “good intentions,” but that they still broke school policy by cutting the child’s hair without first receiving her parents’ permission.
Despite the fact that the school board launched an investigation and found no racial bias, Jimmy claims the district never questioned him or his daughter about the incident. Jurnee has transferred to a new school.
Jurnee’s case isn’t the only one where a teacher has chopped a student’s hair without the parent’s permission recently.
Jonathan Battle is a 17-year-old Indiana adolescent who has been diagnosed with autism. The adolescent had been growing his hair out to attain a specific look once it reached a certain length, according to the Kansas City Star in September 2021. He’d been looking forward to his next salary so he could get his hair braided at a haridresser’s.
Unfortunately, Jonathan’s hair was cut short by a teacher at his high school before this could happen.
Nikki Battle, his mother, told Wish TV: “Jonathan said that his hair was clipped by his gym teacher. Why did you chop his hair, I wonder? ‘I’m asking (Jonathan) this because he wants me to look fresh,’ he explained. No one consulted with me beforehand, I’m like.”
When Nikki contacted Jonathan’s school, she was told that the teacher had only the greatest of intentions: “Outside of the classroom, it is not uncommon for school professionals to go above and beyond to satisfy the needs of pupils. The staff person in question was acting in the best interests of the student.”
Nikki, on the other hand, was not convinced. She brought up the fact that the teacher had cut his face while giving him a haircut, as well as her son’s less than enthusiastic reaction.
“I am concerned for him as a father, a person, and a human being. “I was done when he became so unhappy that he began crying in the car,” she explained, adding, “That teacher had no right to lay his hands anywhere… on my child’s body.”