In a recent development, an 18-year-old Black student named Darryl George in Texas is facing disciplinary consequences over his dreadlocks. George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, has been suspended since August 31, and as of October 12, he is being relocated to EPIC, an alternative education program. This move comes as a result of what the school principal claims is “failure to comply” with various campus and classroom rules.
According to the school’s handbook, the Barbers Hill Independent School District has regulations stating that male students cannot have hair that extends beyond the eyebrows, ear lobes, or the top of a T-shirt collar. Additionally, the policy mandates that all students must maintain clean, well-groomed, and geometrical hairstyles without unnatural colors or variations. It’s worth noting that the school does not have a uniform requirement.
The principal, Lance Murphy, stated that George repeatedly violated the school’s previously communicated conduct standards, which prompted the decision to send him to an alternative education program. George’s suspension is expected to last until November 29, after which he may return to regular classroom instruction. However, he will not be allowed back on the high school’s campus until November 30, except for meetings with school administrators regarding his conduct.
George’s family, along with their attorney, disputes the school’s claims that his hairstyle violates the dress code. In response, they have taken legal action. Last month, they filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency and a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state’s governor and attorney general. They allege that these officials failed to enforce a new law designed to prevent discrimination based on hairstyles.
The family’s complaint is grounded in the recently enacted CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), which went into effect on September 1. The CROWN Act aims to prohibit discrimination based on hair texture or protective hairstyles, such as Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists, or Bantu knots. The law applies to both employers and schools and is intended to combat race-based hair discrimination.
While a federal version of the CROWN Act passed in the U.S. House last year, it did not gain approval in the Senate.
In response to this situation, the school district has filed a lawsuit in state district court to seek clarification on whether its dress code regulations limiting hair length for boys violate the CROWN Act. This legal action was initiated in Chambers County, located east of Houston.
This isn’t the first time that Barbers Hill High School has found itself embroiled in controversy related to its dress code. In 2020, the school faced a legal challenge when it required two other Black male students, De’Andre Arnold and Kaden Bradford, to cut their dreadlocks. The families of these students sued the district, and a federal judge ultimately ruled that the school’s hair policy was discriminatory. The ongoing legal battle surrounding these cases played a role in the approval of the Texas CROWN Act. Bradford later returned to the school after the judge’s ruling, while Arnold withdrew from the school.