A Black Texas high school student, Darryl George, has been slapped with a second suspension after returning to regular classes following a 30-day suspension in an alternative school for refusing to change his locs hairstyle.
The dispute with Barbers Hill Independent School District revolves around the school’s dress code policy, which the George family argues violates the state’s CROWN Act, designed to prevent race-based hair discrimination.
Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu issued a 13-day suspension notice to George, 18, citing non-compliance with the district’s hair length rules. This comes on the heels of a legal action taken by the family to challenge the policy, according to BET.
School officials claimed that George’s braided locs would exceed the allowed length, falling below his eyebrows and ear lobes if let down. The applicability of the CROWN Act to address specific hair length is uncertain.
George’s mother, Darresha George, expressed the family’s determination to persevere, stating they are taking it day by day despite not seeing a clear resolution. “We do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we are not giving up,” she added.
Allie Booker, the family’s attorney, is actively working to challenge and revoke the suspension.
On August 31, school officials removed George from classes, placing him on in-school suspension for violating the hairstyle code. The district superintendent, Greg Poole, noted that their dress code standards are stricter than those of neighboring school districts, and require students to conform.
Despite the initial suspension, George and his family remained non-compliant with the policy. In October, George was sent to a disciplinary alternative education program for 30 days by the school district. The disciplinary action was a result of his violation of dress code requirements, tardiness, disruption in the in-school suspension classroom, and failure to comply with school directives, the district said.
George, a high school junior, expressed frustration, claiming that the district is singling him out, as other boys in school have longer hair without facing similar consequences. He found it unfair to be punished for something that others were allowed to do, such as growing and having longer hair.
Natural hair discrimination against African Americans in schools and workplaces has been a longstanding issue. In response, several states, including Texas, have enacted versions of the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) to prohibit race-based hair discrimination, with Texas’ law becoming effective on September 1.
George’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Governor Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, and the school district for alleged non-enforcement of the CROWN Act. Simultaneously, the school district has filed a lawsuit seeking clarification of the new law in state courts.
Texas Legislative Black Caucus chair Rep. Ron Reynolds said he intends to address the issue of hair length through an amendment to the law. The goal is to eliminate pretextual arguments and ensure compliance with the CROWN Act.