Officials at a school district in Michigan have decided that a librarian who cut a 7-year-old biracial girl's curly locks will get to keep her job at the school but on a "last chance" basis.
Mount Pleasant Public Schools launched an investigation after Jurnee Hoffmeyer, a student went home in tears because the librarian took a pair of scissors to her hair. However, the school board has concluded that the woman, who is also a "beautician", did not act with racial bias and instead acted in the best interest of the child.
"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," school board officials said in a statement Friday, MLive.com reported. "Regardless, their decisions and actions are unacceptable and show a major lack of judgment. The employees involved have acknowledged their wrong actions and apologized."
"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 Mount Pleasant Public Schools Board of Education said.
It has been reported that the librarian, who is white, acted the way she did due to an incident on the bus, which involved another of Jurnee's white classmates cutting the 7-year-old's hair on the way to Ganiard Elementary School. She came home crying to her father, who took her to the barber's to get her a haircut. The incident occurred back in March and upon investigation, it was concluded that the librarian was trying to sort out the asymmetrical look to make it a little better, but instead, she ended up chopping a lot of the curls off.
Two other employees at the school were apparently aware of the incident but didn't report it. They have been reprimanded by the board too.
"Regardless of their good intentions, these actions were unacceptable and show a lack of judgment on the part of our two employees," District Superintendent Jennifer Verleger said in a statement back in April. "Both are being reviewed for further disciplinary actions in accordance without school policies and procedures."
However, Journee's father is not happy with the conclusion and has since pulled his daughter from the school stating: "Did they really do an investigation?"
According to the board, the investigation included interviews with district staff, students and their families, as well as a review of video, photographic evidence, and social media posts, but Journee's father told the Associated Press that they did not question him or his daughter.
"I'm not one to try to make things about race," he added. "I've pretty much grown up with only white people, myself."
A representative from the National Parents Union, a group that advocates on the behalf of children described the incident as a "modern-day scalping." They accused district officials of giving the librarian a "slap on the wrist" while claiming her actions will lead to "lifelong trauma" for the child.
"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," NPU officials said in a statement to MLive.com. "Jurnee must and will have justice."