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Texas high school sends Black student back to in-school suspension over his locs hairstyle

by Ryan Lee
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Discrimination

A Texas high school in Mont Belvieu has placed a Black student, Darryl George, in in-school suspension once again, citing non-compliance with the school’s dress code due to his locs hairstyle. This latest incident has reignited a long-standing dispute over the school’s dress code policy, which the George family deems discriminatory.

Darryl George, an 18-year-old student, has faced a suspension lasting 13 days for his hairstyle being considered out of compliance when left down. This disciplinary action occurred on his first day back at Barbers Hill High School after spending a month in an off-site disciplinary program. Shockingly, George has already spent over 80% of his junior year away from his regular classroom due to previous suspensions related to his hair.

This contentious issue began in August when school officials initially removed George from the classroom, asserting that his braided locs exceeded the prescribed length by extending below his eyebrows and ear lobes, thereby violating the district’s dress code. In response, his family contends that this punishment is in violation of the CROWN Act, a law that was enacted in Texas in September to prevent race-based hair discrimination. The school administration, however, maintains that the CROWN Act does not specifically address hair length.

Darryl George’s mother, Darresha George, expressed her family’s ongoing struggle, saying, “We are just trying to take it day by day. That’s all we can do. We do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we are not giving up.”

The dress code policy within the Barbers Hill Independent School District gained notoriety in 2020 when another Black student faced a choice between cutting his locs or being barred from returning to school and attending his graduation ceremony. Greg Poole, who has served as district superintendent since 2006, maintains that the policy is legally sound and serves as a lesson for students to conform for the greater good.

School authorities have justified George’s disciplinary measures by citing violations of the dress code, tardiness policy, disruptions in the in-school suspension classroom, and non-compliance with school directives. While completing his punishment in the disciplinary program, George was informed that he would only be allowed to return to regular in-person classes if he trimmed his hair.

In response to this ongoing controversy, George’s family has taken legal action by filing a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency and a federal civil rights lawsuit. These actions target the state’s governor, attorney general, and the school district, accusing them of failing to enforce the new law that prohibits discrimination based on hairstyles.

The school district itself has filed a lawsuit in a state district court seeking clarification on whether their dress code restrictions concerning hair length for boys violate the CROWN Act.

State Representative Ron Reynolds, a Democrat and chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, has expressed his intention to introduce an amendment during the next legislative session that specifically addresses hair length to prevent the school district from using it as a pretextual argument against complying with the CROWN Act. Reynolds has criticized the school’s actions, asserting that they are acting in bad faith to continue discriminating against African American students.

Darryl George, at the center of this controversy, feels singled out, especially considering that there are other boys in the school with longer hairstyles than his. His family’s request for an exemption based on the cultural and religious significance of his hairstyle was denied, adding to the frustration he and his family continue to endure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Discrimination

What is the controversy surrounding the Texas high school and the Black student’s locs hairstyle?

The controversy centers on a Texas high school’s decision to repeatedly suspend a Black student, Darryl George, due to his locs hairstyle, citing dress code violations. This has sparked a debate on discrimination and student rights.

Why was Darryl George suspended for his hairstyle?

Darryl George was suspended because his braided locs were considered out of compliance with the school’s dress code policy. School officials claimed his hair exceeded the prescribed length, falling below his eyebrows and ear lobes.

What is the CROWN Act, and how does it relate to this situation?

The CROWN Act is a law enacted in Texas to prohibit race-based hair discrimination. Darryl George’s family argues that his suspension violates this law, while the school maintains that the CROWN Act does not specifically address hair length.

Has this issue been ongoing?

Yes, this issue has been ongoing for some time. In 2020, another Black student faced a similar situation when he was asked to cut his locs or be barred from returning to school and attending his graduation ceremony.

What legal actions have been taken in response to this controversy?

Darryl George’s family has filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency and a federal civil rights lawsuit. The school district has also filed a lawsuit in a state district court seeking clarification on whether their dress code restrictions violate the CROWN Act.

Are there efforts to address this issue at the legislative level?

State Representative Ron Reynolds, chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, plans to introduce an amendment during the next legislative session that specifically addresses hair length to prevent schools from using it as a pretextual argument against complying with the CROWN Act.

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