A father whose seven-year-old daughter's hair was cut by her teacher without permission has filed a $1.4 million lawsuit ($1 million USD) against the school district.
Jimmy Hoffmeyer, who lives in Michigan in the United States, claims his daughter Jurnee was the victim of racial bias after her hair was cut by a school librarian because it didn't fit in with the school dress code.
Mr Hoffmeyer accused the school staff members, who are white, of racial discrimination and ethnic intimidation as Jurnee is biracial.
Mr Hoffmeyer had taken her to a beautician for a haircut, but two days later she came home with nearly all of her hair cut off.
In the lawsuit, Mr Hoffmeyer alleges that the school’s librarian and teacher assistant cut Jurnee’s hair without permission to apparently even it up.
“I asked what happened and said ‘I thought I told you no child should ever cut your hair,’” Mr Hoffmeyer told the Associated Press.
“She said ‘But dad, it was the teacher.’ The teacher cut her hair to even it out.”
The lawsuit claims the school district “failed to properly train, monitor, direct, discipline, and supervise their employees."
The school claims Jurnee asked for her hair to be cut
However, Jennifer Verleger, head of the Mount Pleasant Public Schools Board of Education said in a statement to families that Jurnee was unhappy with how her hair looked and asked the librarian to fix it.
Ms Verleger said although the actions of the staff members cutting the child's hair without parental consent was “unacceptable”, it was at Jurnee's request.
“Rather than declining this request or consulting with the student’s parents or school administrators, the library employee — who is also a cosmetologist — agreed to even out the student’s hair to make her feel better,” she said in the statement.
Christina Laster, director of policy and legislation for the National Parents Union which is representing the family, said in a statement that Jurnee did not seek a haircut from the school.
"Jurnee Hoffmeyer loved her hair that she grew from birth and DID NOT seek out a haircut at school," it reads.
Ms Laster also claims the investigation lacks the perspective of the victim and the school board never reached out to the family.
“It was a botched and biased third party investigation without the perspective of the victim and the person who was harmed,” she told USA Today.
Mr Hoffmeyer said in the lawsuit that Jurnee has suffered “mental and emotional distress, embarrassment (and) humiliation” following the incident and has since left the school.
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