*After a teacher and a student cut a 7-year-old biracial girl’s curly blond hair, her father has transferred his child to another school.
Jimmy Hoffmeyer told USA Today about the March 24 incident, when his daughter Jurnee came home from Ganiard Elementary with one side of her hair cut by a few inches by a classmate. She said the student used scissors to cut her hair on the school bus. Hoffmeyer complained to the principal and took his 7-year-old to a hairstyle who disguised the chop with an asymmetrical style.
Two days later — Jurnee arrived home with the hair on the other side cut.
“She was crying,” Hoffmeyer told the Associated Press. “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 continued. “She said ‘but dad, it was the teacher.’ The teacher cut her hair to even it out.”
Everyone meet Jurnee, she is a 7-year-old frost grade student from Ganiard Elementary in Mt. Pleasant, MI. She went to school and her teacher decided to cut her hair to the scalp. Our hair is our crown and that teacher stole Jurnee’s crown.
The teacher still has a job. pic.twitter.com/klUMSVMioP
— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) April 20, 2021
Hoffmeyer said the explanations he received from the principal and the district were not satisfactory. The Mount Pleasant School 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.
“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 addressed the incident in a statement released on Wednesday.
“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 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.”
The statement goes on to say… “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.”
The incident prompted Jurnee’s father to connect with the National Parent’s Union in relation to the incident.
The organization reacted to the school’s statement in a message on Facebook, “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.”
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.”