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News

A Black Texas student has been suspended once again for his natural hairstyle

todayDecember 6, 2023

Background
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Darryl George, 18, will spend the remainder of the year in in-school suspension, extending a punishment that was first imposed in August over his hairstyle that district officials maintain violates their dress code policy.
Michael Wyke/AP
Darryl George, 18, will spend the remainder of the year in in-school suspension, extending a punishment that was first imposed in August over his hairstyle that district officials maintain violates their dress code policy. Michael Wyke/AP

A Black high school student in Texas who was suspended for more than a month for wearing a natural hairstyle returned to regular classes this week after spending more than a month at an alternative school.

The move, however, was short-lived. His family says he was suspended again for refusing to cut his locs to comply with the school’s dress code policy.

Darryl George, 18, showed up for class Tuesday at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu (a town roughly 30 miles outside of Houston) before a school administrator said he was in violation of the dress code.

Darryl was later referred to in-school suspension, according to Candice Matthews, a spokesperson for the George family.

In a copy of George’s disciplinary notice obtained by NPR, the notice states that his hair is “out of compliance with the BH dress code when let down,” adding that if Darryl corrects his “dress code violation” that he will be allowed to return to his regular classes.

Darryl will remain suspended for 13 days, according to the notice.

“We will continue to fight alongside the George Family and work with State Rep Bowers and Reynolds to amend the vague language that’s being exploited by Barbers Hill ISD to push their racial discrimination agenda towards our children,” the George family said in a statement sent to NPR.

Allie Booker, an attorney for the George family, said she is working to get the suspensions stopped and Darryl back in his regular classes.

News of Darryl’s latest suspension comes after the 18-year-old was placed in a disciplinary alternative education program for violating the school’s dress code policy.

In October, Darresha George, Darryl’s mother, received a notice signed by Barbers Hill High School Principal Lance Murphy – citing the violations of “multiple infractions of campus and classroom rules” that Darryl supposedly violated, which included:

  • Disruption of the in-school suspension classroom;
  • Failure to comply with directives from staff/administration;
  • Violation of tardy policy; and
  • Violation of the dress and grooming policy.

The alleged infractions, excluding the tardiness, were apparently connected to his natural hairstyle. Darryl was allowed to return to class on Nov. 30, the notice stated.

“As the School Principal, I have determined that your child has engaged in chronic or repeated disciplinary infractions that violate the District’s previously communicated standards of student conduct,” Murphy said in the earlier notice obtained by NPR.

Barbers Hill Independent School District did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment on Darryl’s latest suspension.

In an October statement to NPR, Barbers Hill Independent School District spokesperson David Bloom said the district is “unable to provide any comment with respect to disciplinary matters involving a student,” adding that the district “has always allowed protective hairstyles as defined in the CROWN Act.”

Darryl and Darresha George filed a federal lawsuit in Texas Southern District Court in September, arguing that Darryl’s suspension violates the state’s CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) banning race-based hair discrimination.

The filing comes after the school asked a court to clarify whether the CROWN Act law “prohibits grooming policies addressing the length of a male student’s hair.”

Darryl was suspended from Barbers Hill High School just before the Texas law went into effect statewide on Sept 1.

His numerous suspensions continue to generate questions about the legality of punishing students for their natural hair and the extent of the passed law’s protections for individuals.

So far, 24 states along with the U.S. Virgin Islands have signed the CROWN Act into law. Texas is the latest state to implement a version of the law. The legislation has been proposed in 20 additional states and Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Written by: NPR

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