Texas school again suspends Black student for refusing to change his hair | Texas #Texas #school #suspends #Black #student #refusing #change #hair #Texas

A Texas high school sent a Black student back to in-school suspension Tuesday for refusing to change his hairstyle, renewing a months-long standoff over a dress code policy the teen’s family calls discriminatory.

The student, Darryl George, was suspended for 13 days because his hair is out of compliance when let down, according to a disciplinary notice issued by Barbers Hill high school in Mont Belvieu, Texas. It was his first day back at the school after spending a month at an off-site disciplinary program.

George, 18, already has spent more than 80% of his junior year outside of his regular classroom.

He was first pulled from the classroom at the Houston-area school in August after school officials said his braided locs fell below his eyebrows and ear lobes and violated the district’s dress code. His family argues the punishment violates the Crown Act, which became law in Texas in September and is intended to prohibit race-based hair discrimination. The school says the Crown Act does not address hair length.

George’s mother, Darresha George, and the family’s attorney deny that the teenager’s hairstyle violates the dress code, saying his hair is neatly tied in twisted dreadlocks on top of his head.

“We are just trying to take it day by day. That’s all we can do,” Darresha , told the Associated Press. “We do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we are not giving up.”

The dress code policy at Barbers Hill independent school district attracted headlines in 2020 when a Black student was forbidden to return to school or attend his graduation ceremony unless he cut his locs. Greg Poole, who has been district superintendent since 2006, has said the policy is legal and teaches students to conform as a sacrifice benefitting everyone.

School officials said George was sent to the disciplinary program for violating the dress code and the tardy policy, disrupting the in-school suspension classroom and not complying with school directives. As he completed his punishment there, district spokesperson David Bloom said George was told he would go back to in-person suspension unless he trimmed his hair.

George’s family has filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency and a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state’s governor and attorney general along with the school district, alleging they failed to enforce the new law outlawing discrimination based on hairstyles.

George “should be permitted to wear his hair in the manner in which he wears it … because the so-called neutral grooming policy has no close association with learning or safety and when applied, disproportionately impacts Black males”, Allie Booker, the family’s attorney, wrote in the lawsuit.

The school district has filed a lawsuit in state district court asking a judge to clarify whether its dress code restrictions limiting student hair length for boys violate the Crown Act.

The Crown Act is intended to prohibit race-based hair discrimination and bars employers and schools from penalizing people because of hair texture or protective hairstyles, including Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists or Bantu knots. Texas is one of 24 states that have enacted a version of the act.

A federal version passed in the US House last year but was not successful in the Senate.

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George’s school previously clashed with two other Black male students over the dress code.

Barbers Hill officials told the cousins De’Andre Arnold and Kaden Bradford they had to cut their dreadlocks in 2020. The two students’ families sued the school district in May 2020 and a federal judge later ruled the district’s hair policy was discriminatory.

Their case, which garnered national attention and remains pending, helped spur Texas lawmakers to approve the state’s Crown Act. Both students withdrew from the school, with Bradford returning after the judge’s ruling.

Ron Reynolds, a Democratic state representative and chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, said he planned to file an amendment to the law during the next session that “specifically addresses length to stop their pretextual argument to not comply with the Crown Act”.

“They are acting in bad faith to continue discriminating against African American students,” Reynolds said in an email.

George said he feels like he is being singled out because there are other boys in the school with longer hairstyles than his. He was denied an exemption that the family requested because of the hairstyle’s cultural and religious importance.

“It’s frustrating because I’m getting punished for something everyone else is doing, growing hair, having hair,” George said.

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