Texas judge upholds school’s suspension of black student over dreadlocks

A Texas judge has ruled that a school district did not discriminate against a black high school student when it punished him over his dreadlocks.

Barbers Hill Independent School District suspended Darryl George, 18, last August, saying his hairstyle violated its dress code.

The judge found the Houston-area school did not break a state law banning race-based bias on hair.

An attorney for the family said they plan to file an appeal.

Meanwhile, the student will remain on suspension and removed from the school’s regular classrooms.

Chambers County Judge Chap Cain III ruled in favour of the school district after about three hours of testimony on Thursday.

Mr George spoke of his “anger, sadness, disappointment” outside court after the decision.

The school district referred to its dress code, which says hair cannot be “below the top of a T-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down”.

But Mr George refused to cut his braided dreadlocks, with the family citing its cultural significance in the black community.

Last year Texas passed the Crown Act, a state law designed to prohibit race-based discrimination against people based on their hairstyle.

Darresha George, the student’s mother, filed a complaint on her son’s behalf, accusing the district of violating the newly passed law.

The school district filed its own lawsuit in September, asking the court to settle the matter, and Thursday’s ruling was the outcome of that case.

However, Barbers Hill High School’s superintendent Dr Greg Poole defended the school’s decision, saying that the Crown Act did not mention hair length specifically.

Since the start of Mr George’s past year at Barbers Hill High School, in August, he has been handed multiple disciplinary penalties for refusing to cut his hair.

He was removed from class and placed on in-school suspension, and later required to attend an off-campus programme.

“He has to sit on a stool for eight hours in a cubicle,” his mother told the Associated Press in August.

“That’s very uncomfortable. Every day he’d come home, he’d say his back hurts because he has to sit on a stool.”

Barbers Hill ISD has previously made news headlines over dress code conflicts with its black students.

De’Andre Arnold and Kaden Bradford were required to cut their dreadlocks in 2020, and the two students’ families sued.

In that case, a federal judge ruled the district’s hair policy was discriminatory.

A federal version of the Crown Act passed in the House of Representatives in 2023, but did not pass in the Senate.

Source: BBC

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