Posted on July 13, 2021

Michigan School District Says No Racial Bias in Staffer Cutting Off Girl’s Hair

Cole Waterman, MLive, July 3, 2021

Earlier this year, a 7-year-old biracial girl attending a Mount Pleasant grade school had her hair cut first by a fellow student, then by a school librarian. The matter sparked outrage and substantial public outcry, with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights taking notice.

Now, the Mount Pleasant Public Schools Board of Education has announced a third-party investigation into the incident has concluded, finding the librarian who cut the student’s hair did not act with racial bias and thus gets to keep her job.


The precipitating incident saw Jurnee Hoffmeyer on March 24 arrive home from Ganiard Elementary School, 101 S. Adams St., with the hair on one side of her head cut off. Jurnee told her father, Jimmy Hoffmeyer, that a female student had cut her hair while they were on the bus, doing so with scissors she had taken from a classroom. Hoffmeyer took his daughter to a barber, who provided Jurnee with an asymmetrical cut.

Two days later, Jurnee returned home a second time with nearly all her hair cut off down to a few inches from her scalp. Jurnee told her father her library teacher had cut off her remaining hair.

Jurnee is biracial and had long, curly hair prior to it being cut. Hoffmeyer is Black and white and Jurnee’s mother is white. The school staffer who cut Jurnee’s hair is also white.

Jimmy Hoffmeyer removed his daughter from Ganiard following the incident and enrolled her in a different school.


The board ruled to place the librarian on a “last chance” employment agreement, during which time any future violations “will likely result in termination.” Superintendent Jennifer Verleger recommended the discipline and was supported by the board.

“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. {snip}


The incident and resulting investigations have led the district to clarify its policies and engage in professional development to prevent similar occurrences from happening.

“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 board wrote. “Regardless, their decisions and actions are unacceptable and show a major lack of judgement. The employees involved have acknowledged their wrong actions and apologized.”


The board announced their findings the day before National Crown Act Day. The act’s name is a backronym for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” States including California, Washington, New York, Virginia, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut have adopted the Crown Act as law.

In Michigan, a Crown Act bill was sponsored by state Rep. Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing and reintroduced in February. Ingham County on March 23 passed a resolution to become the first county in the state to ban hair discrimination against public employees.


After news of Jurnee’s haircut broke, Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director James E. White said his agency was looking into the matter. At the time, White voiced his support for Michigan to adopt the Crown Act, saying the situation shows legislation is needed “to make it clear that discriminating against a person because their hairstyle does not conform with dominant cultural standards is discrimination based on race.”