Texas judge upholds suspension of black student over dreadlocks

A Texas judge has determined that a school district did not engage in discrimination against a black high school student by disciplining him for his dreadlocks.

Last August, Darryl George, 18, was suspended by Barbers Hill Independent School District for his hairstyle, which was deemed to be in violation of the dress code.

The judge ruled that the Houston-area school did not violate a state law prohibiting discrimination based on race in regards to hair. The family’s attorney intends to submit an appeal.

Meanwhile, the student will be suspended and taken out of the school’s regular classrooms. Chambers County Judge Chap Cain III sided with the school district following approximately three hours of testimony on Thursday. Mr George expressed his emotions of “anger, sadness, disappointment” outside court following the decision.

The school district mentioned its dress code regarding hair length restrictions. However, Mr. George declined to trim his braided dreadlocks, as the family highlighted its cultural importance in the black community. Recently, Texas implemented the Crown Act, a law aimed at preventing discrimination based on hairstyle.

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Darresha George, the student’s mother, lodged a complaint on behalf of her son, alleging that the district had violated the recently enacted law. The school district initiated legal action in September, seeking a resolution from the court, and the ruling on Thursday was the result of that lawsuit.

Barbers Hill High School’s superintendent Dr. Greg Poole justified the school’s decision by pointing out that the Crown Act does not specifically address hair length. Throughout Mr. George’s final year at Barbers Hill High School, starting in August, he has received numerous disciplinary consequences for his refusal to trim his hair.

He got taken out of class and put on in-school suspension, then had to go to an off-campus program. “He needs to spend eight hours sitting on a stool in a cubicle,” his mother informed the Associated Press in August. “That’s quite unpleasant. Each day when he returned home, he complained about his back hurting from sitting on a stool.

Barbers Hill ISD has been in the news for dress code issues involving black students. De’Andre Arnold and Kaden Bradford had to trim their dreadlocks in 2020, leading to lawsuits from their families. According to a federal judge, the district’s hair policy was deemed discriminatory. A federal version of the Crown Act was approved by the House of Representatives in 2022 but did not pass in the Senate.

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