A Michigan father transferred his 7-year-old daughter to another school after he said her hair had been cut on two different occasions – first by a classmate, then a school employee.
Jimmy Hoffmeier said his daughter, Jurnee, arrived home on March 24th from Ganiard Elementary with 2 to 3 inches of right side of her hair by one of her classmates.
Hoffmeier took Jurnee the same day to a local hair salon who styled her hair with an asymmetrical cut and offered free haircuts so the hair grew back in.
Two days later, Journey arrives home with her hair cut again. This time a library employee cut the other side, says Hofmeyer.
Hoffmeier said he called the school several times without an answer before calling the police.
Mount Pleasant Police Department told TODAY that they spoke with Hoffmeyer, but he did not file a police report.
After the haircut, Hoffmeier said that a school aide apologized for the incident and informed him that the principal was out of the office and could only speak to him after spring break.
On April 5, he said he received a call from the director and was told that the librarian would receive marks on her report but that she had no authority to do anything else.
Hoffmeier said he received a call 45 minutes later from District Director Jennifer Verleiger, who offered to mail an apology card to Gurney.
“An apology card for a 7-year-old who was humiliated and should be with her classmates like this?” Hoffmeier asked.
The Mount Pleasant School District acknowledged that a student requested her hair be cut twice, first by a classmate and then later by a library employee, according to a letter sent to parents on Tuesday that Hoffmeier shared with USA TODAY.
The letter, signed by Verleger, also stated that the student’s teacher was aware that the librarian was going to cut her hair, and the two employees have since apologized for their actions.
In the same letter, the supervisor said that the school district will conduct a full review, including interviewing and reviewing video evidence.
USA TODAY has contacted Mount Pleasant Public Schools District for further comments.
Hoffmeier, who is black and white, said that the classmate who cut his daughter’s hair and the librarian were white, but he was trying hard not to make this situation about race. Journey’s mother is white.
“It’s hard to make a decision when you don’t have answers as to why it is,” Hofmeyer said.
Hoffmeier said he decided to return Gurney to Fowles Elementary School, the school she attended before the redistricting last year.
He works with the National Federation of Parents, prof National network of parent organizations, And use the hashtag #justiceforJurnee to request answers from the school. He said he did not file a legal case but did speak to a lawyer.
“We don’t find blaming Jurnee Hoffmeyer the best way to deliver remorse and accountability,” said a response from the National Parents’ Union. “If this nation is serious about combating and eradicating systemic racism, the way we protect our children from it will be the biggest deciding factor.”
Hoffmeier said Gurney is fine but he doesn’t want to go to school. She has also been appointed to provide advice.
“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,” Hoffmeier said. “She doesn’t understand what is wrong with her poetry.”
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert Coastalasha. Email: [email protected]
Contribution: The Associated Press.