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Student Sues School Over Dress Code Suspension

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18 year-old high school student, Darryl George spent more than a month dealing with an in-school suspension at Barbers Hill High School. On August 31, 2023, George was suspended because of his locs hairstyle, with his school claiming that his hair, though he wears it up, was too long, because if it was let down it would have violated dress code. George later found out that he would be sent to a separate disciplinary program for violating the tardy policy, disrupting the in-school suspension classroom, and not complying with school directives.

George’s family claims that despite his two tardies, his refusal to cut his hair is the root of the school’s problem. At the disciplinary program, George is forced to sit in a room alone the whole day and do his school work. Darryl’s mother, Darresha George, states that, “Nobody can see the pain. Nobody can see the hurt. Nobody can see the tears. I have to see this. I have to see the way he gets up in the morning, the way he doesn’t want to endure the day. It weighs on me as his mother because I have to see my child go through this.” 

On September 20, 2023, a lawsuit was filed against the school by the family, who argue that the suspension violates the Texas CROWN Act. The CROWN Act states that workplaces, schools, and in housing facilities cannot racially discrimination based on hairstyles. This act went into effect on September 1, 2023, the day after George was suspended.         

One day before the trial of  Barbers Hill Independent School District took place, two dozen hairstylists, children, and activists gathered near the home of superintendent Greg Poole, protesting in support of Darryl George. The protesters chanted “Justice for Darryl George” and carried signs reading #DoesMyHairOffendYou and #MyHairIsNotAThreat. A salon chair was set up where protesters could get their dreadlocks styles to show support.

On February 22, 2024, the trial finally took place, and the judge ruled that George’s suspension did not violate the CROWN Act because it says nothing about hair length. This means that Darryl George will have to continue dealing with his punishment and being separate from his peers. His family attorney stated that they have decided to ask a federal court for an injunction, which is a legal order to stop doing something, which is in this case, punishing Darryl. Greg Poole said “High expectations have helped make Barbers Hill ISD a state leader in all things and high standards at school benefit all ethnicities … Falsely claiming racism is worse than racism and undermines efforts to address actions that violate constitutionally protected rights.”

This isn’t the first time the school has gotten in trouble for discrimination. In 2020, two cousins, De’Andre Arnold and Kaden Bradford sued the school for trying to make them cut their locs and won. Both of the students, unlike George, decided to leave the school after the lawsuit. George stated, Wearing locs is “how I feel closer to my people. It’s how I feel closer to my ancestors. It’s just me. It’s how I am,” Implying that he will not be changing his hair any time soon.

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