A Texas high school is under fire after a Black student was suspended for his hairstyle. Barbers Hill High School junior Darryl George has been suspended for over a week after allegedly violating the school’s hair and dress code regulations.
The high school junior received several disciplinary action notices and was placed on in-school suspension for wearing his locs in a ponytail, according to his mother, Darresha George, CNN reports.
The 17-year-old was ironically suspended the same week the state’s CROWN Act, a law prohibiting discrimination based on one’s hair texture or protective hairstyle such as locs and braids, went into effect at the start of September. His suspension also comes after a similar situation at the school in 2020 with former student De’Andre Arnold who sued the school district and helped lead to the enactment of the CROWN Act in the state.
His mother said he is frustrated by the situation. “He’s very anxious, very aggravated right now because he keeps getting punished for something that’s irrelevant to his education,” she said.
School officials told Daryl George his loc hairstyle violated the Barbers Hill Independent School District dress and grooming code, which states, “Male students’ hair will not extend, at any time, below the eyebrows or below the ear lobes.”
The school policy goes on to state, “Male students’ hair must not extend below the top of a t-shirt collar or be gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down.”
A school official reprimanded the Texas teen for his locs and for wearing tattered jeans, which is also prohibited. According to his mother, the school advised the 17-year-old that he may change his attire but would also have to cut his hair. He was placed on in-school suspension after he did not cut his hair.
Daryl George now faces being placed in a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, also known as alternative school, if he doesn’t cut his hair by the end of this week, according to his mother.
George says that when she told school officials she believed their policies were in violation of the CROWN Act, she said officials told her the law does not apply to limitations on hair length.
“I want to see their policy change and stop being discriminatory against Black kids. I want to see my son out of ISS (in-school suspension). I don’t want any other child that’s coming behind my son to go through this again,” she said.
The family has hired an attorney and is considering legal action. According to KHOU, the family’s attorney, Allie Booker, stated that Darryl’s hair passed the school’s code. He noted, “As long as hair is not below the lobes, below the eyelids, hiding his eyes, on the nape of the neck, or at the collar, he’s fine. And it doesn’t matter if he twists his locs up.”
George said her son will not cut his locs, and the family will continue to fight the school’s policy.
The Texas Legislative Black Caucus condemned the suspension and has called for the student’s school record be cleared of the violations. The caucus also asked the school district to update its code to “reflect compliance” with the new state law.
“Without remedial action from you, this unacceptable situation will continue a dangerous precedent against students who may face undue disciplinary actions despite codified protections passed by state lawmakers,” wrote Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds, the caucus chairman and an author of the state’s CROWN Act, in a letter to Barbers Hill Independent School District Superintendent and school principal on Friday.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, 24 states have passed versions of the CROWN Act. California was the first state to enact the legislation in 2019. Legislation for a national CROWN Act has not been successful.