A Michigan father whose 7-year-old daughter’s hair was cut in school without her parents’ knowledge has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the school district, NBC News reports. Also, included in the suit are a teacher’s assistant and a librarian.
Jimmy Hoffmeyer alleges his daughter’s constitutional rights were violated, according to the lawsuit.
Hoffmeyer is suing for racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery.
The lawsuit states that the district “failed to properly train, monitor, direct, discipline, and supervise their employees, and knew or should have known that the employees would engage in the complained of behavior given the improper training, customs, procedures, and policies, and the lack of discipline that existed for employees.”
Back in March, Hoffmeyer said when his daughter Jurnee arrived home from Ganiard Elementary in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, he noticed that much of the hair on one side of her head was cut off. Jurnee said a classmate cut her hair on the bus with scissors.
Two days later, after making the principal aware of the situation and having Jurnee’s hair cut in an asymmetrical style by a salon, she came home again with the hair on the other side of her head cut off.
“I asked what happened and said ‘I thought I told you no child should ever cut your hair,’” Hoffmeyer said at the time. “She said ‘but dad, it was the teacher.’ The teacher cut her hair to even it out.”
Jurnee’s mother said that the teacher and the girl who cut Jurnee’s hair on the bus are both white.
The Mount Pleasant school board said the employee who cut Jurnee’s hair had been disciplined. The school board stated that an independent investigation determined that, despite the “good intentions” of the staffer, the employee violated school policy by cutting the student’s hair without permission from her parents and without the knowledge of the district administrators. Additionally, two other employees were aware of the incident but failed to report it. All three employees have since offered apologies the board said.
The school board’s independent investigation concluded with no evidence of racial bias. Included in the investigation were interviews with district personnel, students, and families and a review of camera footage and photos, including posts on social media.
Although the independent investigation did not discover racial bias and the district administration conducted an internal review, Hoffmeyer said the district never questioned him or Jurnee about the incident. She now attends another school.
Amy Bond, the Mount Pleasant school board president, said the district has not received the lawsuit.
“We are confident that the facts will prevail given our district’s appropriate and aggressive response to the incident and the findings of the third-party investigation that was conducted,” Bond said in a statement. “We will aggressively defend against these baseless allegations in court and will not allow this to distract us from our mission to provide every child a world-class education that prepares them for college and careers.”