Texas student suspended for wearing dreadlocks days after state's Crown Act became official

Texas student suspended for wearing dreadlocks days after state's Crown Act became official
Due to his loc hairdo, a Black high school student in Texas has been expelled for more than a week, according to his mother. A new state law that forbids discrimination based on hairstyles may be put to the test as a result of this.

According to his mother, Darresha George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Darryl George was suspended from school and given three disciplinary action letters for putting his locs up in a ponytail.

She said that the state's CROWN Act, which forbids discrimination based on a person's hair texture or protective hairstyles like locs and braids, went into effect the same week that Darryl was suspended.

CNN's inquiries for comment from the institution and the Barbers Hill Independent School District went unanswered. According to a district spokesperson, the CROWN Act and the hair length limit don't clash.

According to the mother of the 17-year-old, he is upset about the circumstance.

She stated, "He keeps getting punished for things that are irrelevant to his schooling, so he's quite nervous and very irritated right now.

George claimed that her family has retained legal counsel and is considering taking legal action.

The Barbers Hill Independent School District dress and grooming policy stipulates that "Male students' hair will not extend, at any time, below the eyebrows or below the ear lobes." According to school administrators, George's loc haircut violates this rule.

Further on in the policy, it is stated that "Male students' hair must not extend below the top of a t-shirt collar or be gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down."

George received a rebuke from a school representative for both having locs and donning the forbidden ragged jeans.

According to his mother, the 17-year-old was informed by the school that he may change his attire but would also need to cut his hair. The teenager was placed on an in-school suspension when he refused to trim his hair.

George was given an additional five days of punishment on September 8 for having "hair below his eyebrows when let down," according to his mother.

If he doesn't trim his hair by the end of the week, she said, he would now be sent to an alternative school known as a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program.

George claims that when she complained to school officials about their regulations, they informed her that the CROWN Act did not extend to restrictions on hair length.

"I want their policy to alter and for them to cease discriminating against Black children. I want my son to be released from his in-school suspension (ISS). I don't want my son's future siblings to have to go through this again, she said.

She stated that her kid would not trim his locs and that the family will continue to challenge the regulations of the school.

According to Allie Booker, the family's lawyer, the male hairstyle regulations unfairly target Black students. Hairstyles known as locs, which are created by coiling, braiding, twisting, or palm-rolling hair strands to resemble ropes, have their origins in Africa and have since assimilated into Black culture. Forcing children of color to cut their locs or forbidding them from donning protective hairstyles like braids or locs, according to critics, is equivalent to robbing them of their sense of cultural identity.

It gives the impression that long hair is not acceptable, even if it is let down and well styled or loc'd, she remarked. Therefore, you must essentially cut your braids and locs.

The Texas Legislative Black Caucus has denounced the suspension and demanded that George's academic record be cleared of the infractions. Additionally, the caucus requested that the school system "reflect compliance" with the new state statute by updating its code.

Texas state Representative Ron Reynolds, the caucus chairman and a co-author of the state's CROWN Act, wrote to the superintendent of the Barbers Hill Independent School District, Greg Poole, and the principal of the school, Lance Murphy, on Friday. Reynolds said, "Without remedial action from you, this unacceptable situation will continue a dangerous precedent against students who may face unjustified disciplinary actions despite codified protections passed by state lawmakers."

In relation to its hair regulation, the school district has previously been sued.

In a lawsuit filed against the Barbers Hill Independent School District in 2020, Sandy Arnold, her son DeAndre, and Cindy Bradford claimed that the district's grooming regulations amounted to racial discrimination and violated the kids' rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. According to an earlier CNN article, both students had loc hairstyles and were asked to chop them short in order to follow the district's hair length guideline.

DeAndre Arnold was also warned that he wouldn't be able to attend his graduation ceremony if he didn't cut his locs. Arnold moved to a different school district instead of shaving his head, according to a prior CNN article.

Greg Poole, the superintendent of the district at the time, told CNN that the policy was perfectly legal. "People want to accuse us of racism, but we are abiding with the law," he said.

A preliminary injunction prohibiting the district from applying its hair-length ban to Bradford's kid was issued by a federal court later that year. According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who stands for the plaintiffs, that case is still pending.

Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, approved the CROWN Act in May. Arnold told CNN station KTRK that passing the law was his "most validating feeling."

He remarked, "After all this time, we finally got what we fought for, and this made it all worthwhile because I know now they can never do anything like this to anybody else in the state of Texas."

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the CROWN Act has been adopted in twenty states. In 2019, California was the first state to approve the law. The national CROWN Act has not been passed into law.
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