Jimmy Hoffmeyer is a Michigan dad who says his daughter, Jurnee, came home from elementary school in the Mount Pleasant Schools district with her hair cut on two separate occasions. In one case, a teacher cut her hair, and in another, a classmate did it, The Black Wall Street Times reported on April 16, 2021.
Hoffmeyer posted before and after photos of his 7-year-old daughter on Facebook on April 9 with a caption saying, “#GaniardElementary #CutHerHair.” Jurnee, who is biracial, is pictured in one photo with long, blonde ringlets falling over her shoulders. In two other photos, she hangs her head and purses her lips with her hair shorn above her ears. The post prompted a firestorm from advocates fighting for his daughter, and #JusticeforJurnee began trending online.
Hoffmeyer told the Associated Press Jurnee came home from school March 24 with most of the hair on one side of her head cut. The girl told her dad another student cut her hair with scissors on the bus. Hoffmeyer filed a complaint with the principal and had his daughter’s hair styled at a salon to even out the differing lengths. Then, Jurnee came home with the other side of her hair cut and told her dad a library teacher cut it. Hoffmeyer told WAVE 3 his daughter’s hair was still somewhat asymmetrical after the salon cut, but that it was still about shoulder length on one side.
WWMT reported on the results of a third-party investigation, released July 2, 2021, which said the employee who cut the child’s hair had “good intentions” but violated policy because she did so without permission from parents. Three school employees were reprimanded in the incident, the news outlet said. The investigation found no evidence the incident was “motivated by racial bias,” according to CNN.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hoffmeyer Said Jurnee Was Crying & ‘Afraid of Getting in Trouble’ After the Teacher Cut Her Hair
Hoffmeyer said in an interview with the Associated Press that Jurnee was crying and “afraid of getting in trouble” when she came home from school after a teacher cut her hair.
“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 told WAVE 3, “After that teacher cut her hair, she was so embarrassed, so embarrassed that she had to go back to class like that.”
Hoffmeyer’s April 9 Facebook post said he was “feeling exhausted.”
“I know alot of yall want to kno more but this is all I can say at the moment but will update when I can…just want to keep ppl aware in the mean time,” he wrote.
2. Hoffmeyer Says He Was Not Satisfied With the Response He Received From His Daughter’s School
Hoffmeyer told the Associated Press that the school has not done enough for his daughter in response to the incident. After another student cut Jurnee’s hair on the bus, he said the school told him “the little girl stole the scissors off the teacher’s desk, and they were going to talk to the parents and deal with it accordingly,” he told the AP.
The most that could be done to reprimand the library teacher, Hoffmeyer said the principal told him, was placing “a note in her work file.”
“She said she didn’t have the authority to do anything. She kept asking me what she could do to make it go away,” Hoffmeyer told the AP.
When the superintendent’s office responded a week later following spring break, it was to offer “to have ‘I’m sorry’ cards mailed to the family,” the AP reported.
“I got mad and hung up,” Hoffmeyer said.
He also filed an incident report with the Mount Pleasant Police Department but said on April 19 they had not yet contacted him to pursue the report, according to the AP.
3. Hoffmeyer Is Working With the National Parents Union to Fight for Jurnee & Advocates Spoke in Her Support at a School Board Meeting
Parents and others fighting for #JusticeforJurnee spoke at a Mount Pleasant school board meeting Monday, April 19, to fight for the girl’s rights. Hoffmeyer is working with the National Parents Union to call for specific actions from the school. More than 500 people sat through the virtual school board meeting, according to Christina Laster, a policy director with the National Parents Union.
Laster asked the board for specific steps and to put the item on the agenda for the next school board meeting.
She told the board:
We are asking for a formal apology to the Hoffmeyer family for violating their rights and cutting Jurnee’s hair without parental advisement or consent, formal consequences to the educators and staff who decided to act without parental permission, guidance or consent and cut Jurnee’s hair, damages based on the injury and mental anguish that has taken place to this family and child, formal policies in place that will prohibit future harm in this or any other manner that indicate discriminatory practices based on race, ethnicity, hair type, texture or style according to the CROWN Act, resolve to follow the law and not assault children in any way, resolve to have best transparent practices with a spirit of respect and collaboration as parents are co-partners in their child’s educations, and resolve to follow the law and best practices when requests are made through the Freedom of Information Act, open and public records requests and return communications to parents and families. I ask that you would agendize this item to resolve all of these things that I listed for your next board meeting.
The CROWN Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in September 2020 but then stalled in the Senate, stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” and prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hair.
4. Hoffmeyer Is Married to Christie Hoffmeyer, Who Also Spoke Out Publicly About the Haircut
Jimmy Hoffmeyer is married to Christie Hoffmeyer, Jurnee’s mom. Christie Hoffmeyer has also spoken out about her daughter’s treatment at school and posted on social media, although Jurnee’s dad has been the main spokesperson for his daughter in news articles.
Christie Hoffmeyer wrote on Facebook on April 19, after a school board meeting at Mount Pleasant Schools.
Just got done with the school board meeting. & I must say I couldn’t be more proud and thankful of all the love and support my family received from our community and others from all around the world that tuned in to the board meeting and spoke up for my beautiful daughter jurnee! My family couldn’t be more grateful and appreciative of all the support we have received and are continuing to receive! Thank you everyone for standing with us while we fight for justice for my baby! #JusticeforJurnee
Hoffmeyer has two other daughters, ages 8 and 4, according to the Associated Press.
5. Hoffmeyer Said ‘I’m Not One to Try to Make Things About Race’
Hoffmeyer is biracial and his wife, Jurnee’s mom, is white. Both the teacher and the student who cut Jurnee’s hair are white, according to the Associated Press.
“I’m not one to try to make things about race,” he said. “I’ve pretty much grown up with only white people, myself.”
He told WAVE 3 he did not expect serious consequences for the student but said he thought the teacher should at least take responsibility, even if she had good intentions.
“Our kind of hair, you can’t just wet down and cut it because, and that’s when I feel like they should have, even if they were trying to do it in the kindest of their heart, once they seen the outcome, they should have been like, ‘Yeah, we messed up,’” he said. “We should probably call him and let him know what just happened.”