Dad Pulls Biracial Daughter Out of School After Classmate and School Employee Cut Her Hair
A father in Michigan has transferred his biracial 7-year-old daughter to another school after a classmate and a school employee cut his child's curls.
Jimmy Hoffmeyer revealed his daughter Jurnee came home on March 24 with one side of her hair cut by a few inches by a classmate, he told USA Today.
As a result, he took Jurnee to a local hair salon where they gave the 7-year-old an asymmetrical hairstyle to disguise the chop. The hair salon also offered to give Jurnee free haircuts until the shortened side grew back.
Days later, Hoffmeyer said, his daughter came back with the other side of her hair cut and later discovered it was a school employee who did it.
The father also told the Associated Press, "She was crying. She was afraid of getting in trouble for getting her hair cut."
"I asked what happened and said 'I thought I told you no child should ever cut your hair,'" he recalled. "She said 'but dad, it was the teacher.' The teacher cut her hair to even it out."
Hoffmeyer told USA Today that after relentless calls to the Mount Pleasant School District, the district's superintendent Jennifer Verleger offered to write Jurnee an apology.
"An apology card to a 7-year-old who is humiliated and has to be around her classmates like this?" Hoffmeyer told the outlet.
While the father said he doesn't want to make the incident about race, he said, "It's hard to come to any decision when you don't have answers to why it was done."
"I still want to know what justifies a teacher cutting a child's hair without their parents' permission? Any of this could have been resolved with a phone call," Hoffmeyer added. "She doesn't understand what's wrong with her hair."
The school issued a statement on Wednesday regarding the incident.
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"At Mount Pleasant Public Schools, we strive to ensure all our students can learn and achieve in an inclusive, safe environment free from harassment, discrimination, bigotry or intolerance," the letter signed by superintendent Verleger began. "We work hard each day to foster a culture of respect, compassion and kindness so all our students, families, staff and visitors feel welcome and supported."
The school then stated that Jurnee "grew unhappy and dissatisfied with the way her hair looked after the other student cut it and asked a school library employee to help fix her hair during a classroom visit to the library" and the employee "agreed to even out the student's hair to make her feel better."
Jurnee's teacher was made aware that the librarian planned to cut the child's hair without her parent's permission.
"Regardless of their good intentions, these actions are unacceptable and show a lack of judgement on the part of our two employees," the statement said. "Both employees have admitted their actions and apologized. Both are being reviewed for further disciplinary actions in accordance with our school policies and procedures. I have personally apologized to the family on behalf of the school district."
Jurnee's father is now working with the National Parent's Union in relation to the incident.
The organization released a statement in response to the school's statement, which read, "We do not find placing blame on Jurnee Hoffmeyer is the best way to offer remorse and accountability. If this nation is serious about combating and eradicating systemic racism, the way we protect our children from it will be the greatest determining factor."
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The National Parents Union also advocated for the Crown Act, which has been proposed in several states to combat hair discrimination based on texture and style.
Christina Laster, the director of policy and legislation for the National Parents Union, told ABC12, "I believe that the adults in this educational space were more concerned and maybe outspoken about Jurnee's hairstyle and texture than Jurnee."
"And I believe that perhaps what took place — and based on my communications with the family — what really took place is that children started to adopt that same judgmental mentality about Jurnee's hair, which then turned into this incident that really got out of control quick."