An elementary school librarian in Michigan will be allowed to keep her job after being accused of submitting a seven year-old girl to a “scalping” earlier this year, in an incident that sparked charges of racial bias.
Following a third-party investigation into the incident, the Mount Pleasant Public Schools Board of Education announced there was no racial bias in the haircut.
“We truly appreciate the support and patience by our students, staff and families while an independent, third-party investigation was conducted regarding an incident at Ganiard Elementary School,” the board wrote in a statement last week following the announcement. “As your Board, we have made every effort to address this matter with the seriousness and care it deserves and with the transparency our community expects.”
On March 24, seven year-old Jurnee Hoffmeyer returned home from school with hair on one side of her head cut off. Jurnee told her father that her hair had been cut by another student on the bus, with scissors that had been taken from a classroom.
Jurnee’s father then took her to a barber to get an “asymmetrical” haircut.
Two days later, Jurnee returned home from school with her long, curly hair cut short. It had been cut by a white librarian.
The district’s independent investigator, however, found no racial intent in the haircut and the librarian apologized. The librarian was then put on “last chance” status, meaning any subsequent infraction would likely lead to firing.
“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 in their statement. “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 determination of the district was criticized by the National Parents’ Union, which had previously called the haircut a “modern-day scalping.”
“The librarian is still gainfully employed with nothing more than a slap on the wrist while the consequences of her actions will be lifelong trauma for Jurnee Hoffmeyer as the result of this assault,” the NPU wrote. “A white employee and white administrators being investigated by a nearly all-white school board who hired an unknown ‘independent investigator’ is not an appropriate lens by which to evaluate this situation.
“Jurnee must and will have justice,” the NPU wrote.
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