A Black Texas high school student returned to regular classes Tuesday (Dec. 5) only to be suspended again after serving a 30-day suspension in an alternative school for refusing to change his locs hairstyle.
Darryl George and his family have taken legal action to challenge Barbers Hill Independent School District’s dress code policy in the months-long dispute. They say it violates the state’s CROWN Act, prohibiting race-based hair discrimination.
The Associated Press reports that Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu issued a 13-day suspension notice to George, 18, for failing to comply with the school district’s hair length rules.
According to school officials, George’s braided locs would fall below his eyebrows and ear lobes if let down, and it is unclear whether the CROWN Act addresses hair length.
“We are just trying to take it day by day. That’s all we can do,” his mother, Darresha George, told the AP. “We do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we are not giving up.”
Allie Booker, an attorney for George and his family, told CNN she is working to revoke the suspension.
School officials removed George from classes on Aug. 31 to serve an in-school suspension for violating the hairstyle code.
Greg Poole, who has been district superintendent since 2006, has said his district has a stricter dress code standard than other school districts in the area and requires students to conform.
After the initial suspension, George and his family refused to comply with the policy.
Consequently, in October, the district sent George to a disciplinary alternative education program for 30 days for violating the dress code requirements, tardiness, disrupting the in-school suspension classroom and failing to comply with school directives.
The high school junior told the AP that the district is targeting him because other boys in school have longer hair than his. “It’s frustrating because I’m getting punished for something everyone else is doing, growing hair, having hair,” he said.
African Americans have encountered natural hair discrimination in schools and workplaces for years. Recently, several states have enacted a version of the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) that ban race-based hair discrimination. Texas’ law took effect on Sept. 1.
George’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general and the school district for not enforcing the CROWN Act. The school district filed a lawsuit to ask state courts to clarify the new law.
Meanwhile, Texas Legislative Black Caucus chair Rep. Ron Reynolds plans to file an amendment to the law that addresses hair length “to stop their pretextual argument to not comply with the CROWN Act.”
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