Teachers are society’s unsung heroes. It takes a very special individual to educate & nurture other children as their own, & good teachers should be acknowledged & celebrated.
Like in any profession, unfortunately, there will always be a few bad apples.
For the thousands of stories extolling the virtues of fantastic teachers, there are occasionally the stories that make you scratch your head in disgust, wondering, “WTF was this clueless person allowed to work with children?!”
And this most recent hair-raising tale is one of those times.
A father is appealing for public assistance to fund a move out of their current school district after his daughter’s hair was cut -without parental permission- by the school’s library teacher.
Dad Jimmy Hoffmeyer of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, was understandably perturbed when his daughter Jurnee arrived home from Ganiard Elementary school on March 24 with a good amount of hair cut on one side of her head.
It turns out that a classmate on the bus had whipped out a pair of scissors & hacked a hunk of Jurnee’s hair off.
School bus rides can resemble something out of Wild Kingdom, & kids can get downright savage with fellow classmates. Jimmy understandably was irked, & contacted the school principal to inform him of the scissor snafu.
Then he took Jurnee to a hairdresser to repair the damage with a cool asymmetrical cut & assumed all would be well.
But the story gets better… as in worse. So much worse.
Two days later, Jurnee arrived home from school crying, and with a lot less hair than she’d started with that morning.
Jimmy assumed that the same scissor-happy kid had been at it again. After all, only a kid would be dumb enough to think it’s acceptable to cut someone else’s hair without permission, right?
As Jimmy Hoffmeyer recounted to Associated Press:
She was crying. She was afraid of getting in trouble for getting her hair cut.
Poor Jurnee- it’s so common for kids to be afraid to tell on a fellow classmate, not wanting to stir the pot. But Jimmy had made it clear to her that she needed to tell; as he had explained to her the first time, her classmates were NOT allowed to cut her hair. Period.
But Jurnee revealed the identity of her horrible hairdresser:
She said ‘but dad, it was the teacher.’ The teacher cut her hair to even it out.
…excuse me…. WHAT???
Apparently the school’s library teacher decided that the asymmetrical cut Jurnee was sporting needed fixing, & took it upon herself to cut the little girl’s hair.
Can you even imagine, as a parent? What teacher has the audacity to think it’s appropriate to cut a student’s hair, ever??
It’s important to note here that Jurnee is biracial; her mother is white, & her father is both white & Black. It is unclear whether race played a role in the white teachers assuming it needed to be “fixed”, however it is rumored that comments had been made about the child’s hair before.
To make matters worse, the school principal explained to Hoffmeyer that the most severe consequence she could give the teacher was a note in her file.
To make matters even worse, we’re not dealing with one ignorant teacher, but two.
It turns out that Jurnee’s class teacher was aware of the library teacher’s plans to cut Jurnee’s hair beforehand.
Mount Pleasant School District Superintendent Jennifer Verleger confirmed that both teachers had been involved in the plan to cut Jurnee’s hair.
Despite being fully aware that two of her teachers decided that cutting a student’s hair was a reasonable action, her response to the incident was initially rather thin.
When speaking to Hoffmeyer on the phone, she offered to have “I’m sorry” cards mailed to his home.
The idea that this superintendent thought that a, “Gee, sorry one of our teachers altered your child’s appearance without permission” card would suffice makes it clear that in this district, attitude obviously reflects leadership.
In a public statement released on Tuesday, April 20, she indicated that further action would be possible:
Regardless of their good intentions, these actions were unacceptable and show a lack of judgment on the part of our two employees.
(How the district can justify cutting a child’s hair without permission as “good intentions” is beyond me. Just saying.)
Both are being reviewed for further disciplinary actions in accordance without school policies and procedures.
One would certainly hope so!
While the district now appears to be taking the incident more seriously since it’s been made public, the Hoffmeyer family isn’t having it.
They have expressed a desire to leave the district, and a GoFundMe has been created to raise funds for the family to move.
The National Parents Union has recently taken up the Hoffmeyers protest against the district’s handling of the incident, & the Michigan State Organization issued a statement on their Instagram page denouncing the school for sending a harmful message about diversity:
View this post on Instagram
No matter how the teachers involved are disciplined, no educator should ever presume the right to alter a child’s appearance in such a way. One can only hope that this incident serves as a very obvious cautionary tale for any teacher about respecting both student diversity & body boundaries.