A Black Texas high school student who has been repeatedly disciplined by his school over the length of his locs hairstyle, returned to regular classes Tuesday after spending 30 days at an alternative school.
He was then suspended again for refusing to cut his hair to comply with a dress code policy his family says is discriminatory.
On Tuesday morning, Darryl George, 18, briefly attended class at Barbers Hill High School before a school administrator referred him to in-school suspension, according to Candice Matthews, a spokesperson for the family.
A copy of the school’s referral notice obtained by CNN states, “Darryl’s hair is out of compliance with the BH dress code when let down. If Darryl corrects his dress code violation he will be allowed to return to his regular classes.”
George will remain suspended for 13 days, the notice states. Allie Booker, an attorney for George and his family, said she is working to try to get the suspensions stopped.
George’s latest suspension follows three months of disciplinary action for violating the school district’s dress code, which states a male student’s hair cannot be 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.”
In October, David Bloom, a spokesperson for Barbers Hill Independent School District, told CNN George was referred to a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, also known as an alternative school, for 30 days for multiple infractions, including failing to meet the school’s dress code requirements.
The George family refutes the school’s claims and refuses to cut the teen’s hair – which they say he wears in braids to comply with the dress code. They argue the district’s policy is a violation of the Texas CROWN Act, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of hairstyles “commonly or historically associated with race.”
In September, George and his family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, and school officials for allegedly failing to enforce the state’s CROWN Act law.
Bloom told CNN the George family have been told repeated violations of the school dress code would result in continued disciplinary action.
“Until he cuts [his] hair or we get [a] court ruling to the contrary, he will stay in ISS,” Bloom told CNN in an email.
But, he added, George’s suspension will not affect his ability to graduate.
“As far as graduation impact, there is none. A program is in place for him to complete his courses in dress-code ISS if he chooses not to trim his hair,” Bloom said, adding that a teacher is assigned to each ISS classroom to help students complete regular coursework.
Still, George’s mother told CNN she is worried the suspensions and disciplinary action will affect her son’s education.
“It’s been very frustrating and overwhelming. It’s ridiculous. We’re trying to hang in there, get through the motions,” Darresha George told CNN. “We’re not going to back down. I don’t care what tactics they try. We’re not backing down.”
Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds, a Democrat and co-author of the state’s CROWN Act law, told CNN the measure was passed to protect students such as George from hair discrimination – regardless of the length.
Reynolds said he is working to propose changes to the language of the law to expand protections.
“I will file an amendment to the bill during the next Legislative session that specifically addresses length to stop their pretextual argument to not comply with the Crown Act,” he said.
“They are acting in bad faith to continue discriminating against African American students.”
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