A Texas high school Black student, Darryl George, faces prolonged disciplinary measures and continues to be kept away from his classroom for months due to his refusal to change his hairstyle. Efforts by George’s attorney to seek a judge’s intervention in his punishment and a civil rights lawsuit filed by him and his family in September are currently on hold in federal court.
George, 18, recently returned to in-school suspension at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, after spending a month in an off-site disciplinary program. The ongoing disciplinary action and the delay in his return to class are mired in various legal complexities.
The controversy began in August when school officials cited George’s locs falling below his eyebrows and ear lobes as a violation of the district’s dress code. His family contends that his hairstyle does not breach any rules. Despite pressure to conform, George remains steadfast in his decision not to cut his hair, though concerns about potential expulsion linger.
The family invokes the CROWN Act, which became law in Texas in September, aiming to prevent race-based hair discrimination. However, attorneys for the Barbers Hill School District argue that federal law doesn’t grant students a protected right to wear their hair at any length or style of their choice. The district claims that its longstanding hair restriction policy for male students has always permitted locs.
A Texas high school sent a Black student back to in-school suspension Tuesday for refusing to change his hairstyle, renewing a monthslong standoff over a dress code policy the teen’s family calls discriminatory.
The 18-year-old student already has spent more than 80% of his… pic.twitter.com/EF2MoRT561
— Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) December 6, 2023
Legal experts, including Jaleesa Reed of Cornell University, emphasize the need for cultural sensitivity in schools, advocating for an understanding and acceptance of diverse hairstyles rather than punitive measures.
George’s case is further complicated by a formal complaint filed with the Texas Education Agency and a federal civil rights lawsuit against Governor Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and the school district. Allegations include the failure to enforce the CROWN Act. The school district’s separate lawsuit, seeking clarification on its dress code restrictions, adds another layer of complexity. George’s attorney aims to secure a temporary injunction to halt the district’s punishment, but proceedings are delayed pending rulings on various motions.
The situation mirrors a previous legal challenge to Barbers Hill’s hair policy in May 2020, where two students withdrew from the high school. One student returned after a federal judge granted a temporary injunction, citing a substantial likelihood of rights violations. That lawsuit remains pending, highlighting the recurring issues surrounding the school district’s hair policies.