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Dad: School Librarian Cut My Daughter's Hair Off

Jimmy Hoffmeyer is suing for $1M, claiming racial discrimination over March incident
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2021 8:07 AM CDT

(Newser) – Two times in March, 7-year-old Jurnee Hoffmeyer came home from her Michigan school with a surprise haircut. Now, her dad is suing, claiming the white school librarian who gave Jurnee her second cut did so without his permission and violated his biracial daughter's constitutional rights. Per the $1 million lawsuit filed by Jimmy Hoffmeyer, one of Jurnee's classmates took a pair of scissors out of a classroom at Ganiard Elementary School on March 24 and onto a school bus, where that student cut Jurnee's hair without her OK, report MLive and the Detroit Free Press. Hoffmeyer told the AP at the time that he took his daughter to a salon to get an "asymmetrical" hairstyle so the botched cut wouldn't look so bad.

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But on March 26, Jurnee came home with even more hair cut off, down to just a few inches off her scalp, according to the suit—this time, at the hands of librarian Kelly Mogg. Per an April statement from Mount Pleasant Public Schools Superintendent Jennifer Verleger, Mogg says she cut Jurnee's hair only because Jurnee was "unhappy and dissatisfied" with her hair after her classmate had mucked it up, and that Mogg brought in "professional shears and special barrettes" for the job. Hoffmeyer's complaint—which names Mogg, the school district, and a teacher's assistant who was also said to present—contains eight counts, including racial discrimination (Hoffmeyer is Black; Jurnee's mom is white), ethnic intimidation, assault and battery, and "deliberate indifference" to Jurnee's constitutional rights.

The district, for its part, concedes Mogg erred in cutting off Jurnee's longer locks. "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," Verleger said in her statement, per the Kansas City Star. She added that Mogg's actions were "unacceptable" and exhibited a "lack of [judgment]." A third-party probe into the incident, however, found Mogg hadn't acted with racial bias.

It was determined, though, that Mogg violated school policy by cutting Jurnee's hair—which the investigation found she shouldn't have done even if she'd had the parents' OK. The Board of Education has therefore placed Mogg on a "last change" work agreement, meaning if she has any future violations, it "will likely result in termination." In his suit, Hoffmeyer claims his daughter has suffered "mental and emotional distress, embarrassment, (and) humiliation" since the haircut. Jurnee no longer attends Ganiard Elementary, according to her dad, who wants legislation put in place to prevent incidents like this in the future, per WNEM. (Read more Michigan stories.)

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