Lawsuit filed against Mount Pleasant Public School District over haircut

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:24 PM EDT
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MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (WJRT) -“There’s a culture change that needs to happen in Mount Pleasant school district,” said attorney, Shawndrica Simmons.

For Simmons, that need for change within the Mount Pleasant School district was exposed earlier this year.

In April, ABC 12 introduced viewers to 7-year old Jurnee Hoffmeyer and her father, Jimmy after the child had had been given a haircut cut by a staff member at Garland Elementary where Jurnee attended school at the time.

While Jurnee’s teacher was aware of what took place, her father Jimmy learned of the haircut when Jurnee arrived home from school.

“Even if they were doing it in the kind of their heart, once they saw the outcome, they should have been like, yeah we messed up. We should probably call him and let him what just happened,” said Jurnee’s father Jimmy Hoffmeyer in April.

“The school district I believe is through that Journee requested that her hair be cut. Journee is seven. Journee can ask for someone to cut her hair,” Simmons said.

After months of conversations with the district, a federal lawsuit has been filed by Simmons and attorney Herbert Sanders on behalf of Jurnee.

“This lawsuit is a filed on behalf of Jurnee Hoffmeyer outlining all the rights that have been violated both federally in Michigan, local law,” Simmons said.

The Hoffmeyers are asking for $1 million in punitive damages. But Simmons said that there is more at stake.

“In the filing of this lawsuit I’ve received several calls in my office from other parents that have children of color the district stated that there is a systematic issue with how Mount Pleasant schools deals with children of color, particularly black children, and that in a great way.” Simmons said.

ABC12 also reached out to the Mount Pleasant Public School District about the lawsuit.

A statement was released on Thursday from Mount Pleasant Public School Board of Education President Amy Bond:

“The district has been made aware of recent media reports of a lawsuit that Jimmy Hoffmeyer has filed on behalf of his daughter. At this time, the district has not received service of the Complaint. 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. 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. Given the fact that this matter is now pending in the federal court, we will refrain from any further comment about this matter on the advice of our legal counsel.”

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