The librarian who cut her biracial student’s hair has not been penalized and therefore gets to keep her job after school district officials decided she did not act with racial bias.
The ruling follows an incident that happened in March, when 7-year-old Jurnee Hoffmeyer of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, returned home to her father, Jimmy Hoffmeyer, with half of her hair cut off.
A librarian claimed she was attempting to fix a previous cut made by bullies but the father rebutted that the librarian’s actions wouldn’t have happened if she wasn’t biracial.
“We found out that it was a child so we kinda, you know, shrugged it off and we didn’t really know what to do,” the dad revealed on a Facebook Live post in April. “It was just a child incident — kids do that sometimes.”
“So I took her to the salon like any parent would to, you know, give her a nice little haircut,” he continued. “The stylist managed to give Jurnee an asymmetrical haircut. Half of it was short and half of it was long.”
But a few days later, the dad was surprised to see Jurnee came home with another haircut.
“She was crying,” the dad said, according to Today. “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.”
When the dad reached out to the school, he was told the most they could do was reprimand Jurnee’s teacher.
“What can we do to make this go away?” the principal allegedly asked Hoffmeyer before offering to have Jurnee’s teacher write an apology note.
“That’s when I got frustrated. Just the tone in her voice didn’t even sound concerned at all. If you’re not concerned about my child then what am I even doing talking to you?” he said on Facebook Live. Hoffmeyer decided to file a police report, believing the incident was rooted in racial bias.
“I’m not one to try to make things about race,” he told Today. “I’ve pretty much grown up with only white people, myself.”
Mount Pleasant Public Schools has since launched its own third-party investigation into what happened.
“As your Board, we have made every effort to address this matter with the seriousness and care it deserves and with the transparency, our community expects,” the statement read. “The third-party independent investigation included interviews with and feedback from district personnel, students, families as well as a review of video and photographic evidence including social media posts.”
The board noted they conducted an internal review using interviews, video footage, and photographic evidence to make their decision. “The key takeaways in both reviews are consistent,” the board stated.
“The investigation found that on March 26, an elementary student’s hair was cut by a school employee without parent knowledge and without the knowledge of district administrators. Cutting a student’s hair on school grounds either with or without parent permission is a clear violation of school policy and there was no evidence the incident was motivated by racial bias.”
“We believe a last chance agreement is appropriate given that the employee has an outstanding record of conduct and has never once been reprimanded in more than 20 years of work at MPPS,” the board wrote. “In addition, Superintendent [Jennifer] Verleger has recommended and the Board has accepted written reprimands for two additional MPPS employees who were aware of the incident but did not alert the student’s parents or the Administration.”
“It’s clear from the third-party investigation and the district’s own internal investigation that MPPS employees had good intentions when performing the haircut,” the statement read. “Regardless, their decisions and actions are unacceptable and show a major lack of judgment. The employees involved have acknowledged their wrong actions and apologized.”
“Our main purpose with the independent investigation has been to bring the facts to light, learn from this incident and make our district even stronger,” the statement read. “To achieve our mission of providing a world-class education to all MPPS students, we must continuously strive to improve and acknowledge when we have not lived up to our own high standards.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
Mamas Uncut is THE online place for moms. We cover the latest about motherhood, parenting, and entertainment as well – all with a mom-focused twist. So if you're looking for parenting advice from real parents, we have plenty of it, all for moms from moms, and also experts. Because, at the end of the day, our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for in one safe space.