The lawsuit alleges that Mount Pleasant Public Schools staffers violated the 7-year-old girl’s constitutional rights.
The father of a young Michigan girl, whose hair was cut by a teacher without her parents’ permission, has filed a seven-figure lawsuit against the school district, a librarian, and a teacher’s assistant.
According to ABC News, the lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Grand Rapids.
In his complaint, Jimmy Hoffmeyer alleges that Mount Pleasant Public Schools staffers discriminated against his daughter, who is biracial.
Now, Hoffmeyer is asking that the court compel the district to pay him up to $1 million.
MLIve.com reports that Hoffmeyer’s daughter, Jurnee, was a student at Ganiard Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. In March, one of Jurnee’s classmates used scissors to cut the 7-year-old girl’s hair on a school-bus.
Jurnee’s classmate, says MLive.com, purportedly did this without Jurnee’s permission.
Hoffmeyer then took Jurnee to a local beautician, who gave his daughter an “asymmetrical haircut,” ostensibly to repair the damage. But, just a few days later, Jurnee returned from school with nearly all her hair cut off.
“Jurnee’s Library Teacher, Ms. Mogg had [sic] cut off her remaining hair with the assistance and/or acquiescence of [teaching assistant Kristen Jacobs],” the lawsuit states. “The Defendants 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.”
Hoffmeyer alleges that the educators violated Jurnee’s constitutional rights, and therefore cannot claim a defense of qualified immunity to shield themselves from the lawsuit.
ABC News notes that Mount Pleasant Schools conducted an independent investigation, and found no racial bias. Its investigation included interviews with district personnel, students, and families, as well as a review of video and photos.
However, investigators did find that—although they believe the educators involved in the unauthorized haircut meant well—the librarian and teaching assistants broke clearly established protocol, and have since received reprimands and other, limited disciplinary measures.
But Hoffmeyers says, in spite of the school’s claims of undertaking an investigation, nobody from the district ever contacted him or his daughter, who has since transferred to another school.
In the meantime, Amy Bond—the president of the Mount Pleasant Schools Board of Education—told media that, while her district has yet to be served a copy of the suit, it will defend itself against Hoffmeyer’s claims.
“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 told ABC News 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.”