When 17-year-old Darryl George styled his locs in a ponytail, he didn’t anticipate his high school would suspend him. But that is precisely what happened at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas. Now, Darryl’s family has hired a lawyer as they consider legal action against the school, per CNN.
Darryl, a junior at the school, received disciplinary notes and in-school suspension because his locs draped past a certain length. A school official reportedly told the teen his hairstyle violated the Barbers Hill Independent School District’s dress and grooming code. The same official also reprimanded him for wearing frayed jeans.
Darryl’s mother, Darresha George, says her son was allowed to change his pants but wasn’t afforded the same with his hair. When he refused to buzz away his locs, he was given in-school suspension.
Per CNN, the code prohibits male students’ hair from extending “below the eyebrows or below the ear lobes.” The policy also forbids male students’ hair from extending below “the top of a t-shirt collar” or having it in any hairstyle that would allow that.
Darryl George Might Be Sent To Alternative School Without Chopped Locs
As of Sept. 8, Darryl got an additional five days of suspension because of his hair length. His mother says the teen is frustrated by the situation.
“He’s very anxious, very aggravated right now because he keeps getting punished for something that’s irrelevant to his education,” Darresha said.
And the punishment will likely continue if Geroge doesn’t shave his locs before the end of the week. According to CNN and the teen’s mother, George faces attending a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, also known as alternative school.
As for chopping his hair, the teen’s mother said her son will not. Instead, she’s hoping the school’s policy will change, particularly for Black children and their hair.
“I want to see their policy change and stop being discriminatory against Black kids. I want to see my son out of ISS (in-school suspension). I don’t want any other child that’s coming behind my son to go through this again.”
RELATED: The House Passes The CROWN Act Banning Race-Based Hair Discrimination & Headed To The Senate Next!
The Same Texas School District Suspended Another Black Student For His Locs’ Length
This incident marks the second time the public has heard of the Barbers Hill Independent School District restricting a Black student’s access to their education due to their locs.
In January 2020, school officials suspended DeAndre Arnold due to the length of his locs. At the time, the student was told he wouldn’t be allowed to walk at graduation without cutting his hair. The superintendent at the time, Greg Poole, denied that the suspension was about race or locs. Instead, he claimed it’s dress code tradition.
“There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair. Our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years,” Poole said.
Eventually, Arnold transferred schools and graduated elsewhere after the district voted not to adjust the policy. His story got national media coverage and helped inspire the movement behind the CROWN Act, meaning “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.”
In May 2023, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law, prohibiting hair-based discrimination in the state’s school, housing, and workplace policies. Though California was the first state to pass the Act in 2019, the measure exists in more than 20 states. In Texas, the CROWN Act went into effect on Sept. 1.
A district spokesperson told KTRK their hair length rule doesn’t conflict with the Act. But an attorney for the George family says the district’s policy singles out Black students.
“It leads you to believe that OK, even when let down, long hair is not allowed – even if it’s loc’d and it’s put up in a neat manner,” Allie Booker said. “So basically, you have to cut your locs; you have to cut your braids.”