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Black student's family sues Texas officials for suspension over hair

The 17-year-old student has been serving in-school suspension for over three weeks because of his hairstyle.
Black student's family sues Texas officials for suspension over hair
Posted at 1:18 PM, Sep 23, 2023

The family of a Black high school student in Texas filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against state officials for the ongoing suspension over his hairstyle.

This is according to a copy of the document obtained by The Associated Press.

Darryl George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, has been serving in-school suspension since Aug. 31 due to his loc'd hair. The school said the 17-year-old's hair violates its "Dress and Grooming Code" for male students, which states the hair must not fall "below the eyebrows or below the earlobes when let down."

But his mother, Darresha George, and their family attorney argue the student's hair does not violate the dress code, being that it is neatly tied up in twisted dreadlocks on top of his head.

The lawsuit — filed against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton — alleges the state officials failed to enforce the CROWN Act, which bans discriminatory practices against natural hair texture and styles like braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and at school.

The CROWN Act went into effect in Texas the same week that Darryl was first suspended.

In the lawsuit, the family's attorney, Allie Booker, stated that Darryl "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." 

Darresha and Booker also claim Darryl is forced to sit on a stool for eight hours and is denied the hot lunch that he is qualified for, according to the lawsuit.

They are requesting a temporary restraining order to halt Darryl's in-school suspension while the case is active.

SEE MORE: Texas student suspended for loc hairstyle as Crown Act goes in effect

This is the latest legal move regarding Darryl's suspension.

His mother previously filed a formal complaint on Tuesday with the Texas Education Agency, alleging Darryl was the subject of harassment and mistreatment by school officials who acted in violation of CROWN, AP said.

On Wednesday, the agency said it would investigate.

That same day, the school district filed a lawsuit in state district court asking for clarification on whether restrictions against hair length were in violation of the CROWN Act.

"Although we believe the new law does not govern hair length, we are asking the judicial system of Texas to interpret," Barbers Hill Superintendent Greg Poole said in a statement, according to AP.

Poole previously defended the legality of the school's dress code and said it teaches students to conform as a sacrifice that benefits everyone.

The school said it won't enhance punishment against Darryl while awaiting a ruling, AP said.

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