The father of a seven-year-old girl whose hair was cut by a teacher without parental permission is suing the school district and two staff members for $1m.
Jimmy Hoffmeyer’s lawsuit says the constitutional rights of his mixed-race daughter have been violated.
He has pulled his daughter out of the school.
An investigation by the school district concluded in July that while the teacher had broken school policy she had not acted with racial bias.
She was reprimanded but allowed to keep her job at Ganiard Elementary School in Mount Pleasant.
Jimmy Hoffmeyer told the Associated Press last April that his daughter Jurnee had returned home from school one day with much of the hair on one side of her head cut.
A classmate had used scissors to cut Jurnee’s long curly hair on a school bus, he said.
Two days later, Jurnee returned home from school with the hair on the other side of her head cut – even though she had been taken to a hairdresser who had given her an asymmetrical cut to make the different lengths less obvious.
Mr Hoffmeyer said he thought another child had done it but Jurnee told him it was a teacher. “The teacher cut her hair to even it out,” he told the AP.
The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in west Michigan against Mount Pleasant Public Schools and two teaching staff, MLive.com reports.
As well as violating the child’s constitutional rights, the lawsuit also alleges racial discrimination, ethnic intimidation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and assault and battery.
The district “failed to properly train, monitor, direct, discipline, and supervise their employees and knew or should have known that the employees would engage in the complained of behaviour given the improper training, customs, procedures, and policies, and the lack of discipline that existed for employees,” the lawsuit says.
No formal response has yet been filed by the defendants and there has been no public comment from the school district.