Michigan Dad Pulls Biracial Child Out of School After Teacher, Other Student Cuts Her Hair

Illustration for article titled Michigan Dad Pulls Biracial Child Out of School After Teacher, Other Student Cuts Her Hair
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A Michigan father was outraged after his 7-year-old biracial daughter told him that her teacher and a classmate had cut her hair at school on two separate occasions.

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The girl’s father, Jimmy Hoffmeyer, told the Associated Press that his daughter, Jurnee, arrived home from Ganiard Elementary, in Mount Pleasant, on March 24, with a good portion of hair on one side cut. In the first hair-cutting incident, one of her classmates used scissors to cut her hair on the bus. Hoffmeyer complained to the principal and had the girl’s hair styled at a salon to make the different lengths less obvious.

But two days later, Jurnee’s other side was cut, defeating the purpose of the salon visit. Hoffmeyer said his daughter was very upset when she arrived home.

“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.”

He pulled his daughter out of the school and into another as a result.

The Mount Pleasant Public Schools System is about 150 miles northwest of Detroit and roughly 4 percent of Mount Pleasant’s 25,000 residents are Black.

Hoffmeyer appealed to the principal of the school and school district authorities, but nothing has come of it. The district superintendent offered to send “I’m sorry” cards to Hoffmeyer’s family, but that just pissed him off even more. The principal told the justifiably upset dad that there was little that could be done to discipline the teacher other than putting a note in her work file. He called the Mount Pleasant police to address the hair-cutting incident, but no one followed up.

The girl and the teacher who cut Jurnee’s hair are both white. Hoffmeyer is Black and white and his wife is white.

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“I’m not one to try to make things about race,” he said. “I’ve pretty much grown up with only white people, myself.”

Around the country, Black children suffer the indignity of school staff and classmates ridiculing their hair on a regular basis. Consequently, Chalkbeat reports that laws have been passed at the local and state levels over the years protecting children against hair discrimination at school.

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Michigan lawmaker State Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, has introduced legislation to ban hair discrimination, but the bill has been stalled in the mostly Republican legislature.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

DISCUSSION

I was ready to fight at the title. I read somewhere that cutting someone’s hair without their permission is battery; I don’t know if it’s true but if it is, I would be looking to press charges.