Barbers Hill HS student suspended for 2nd time over hair length, despite CROWN Act in place

KTRK logo
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
High school student says he's being suspended due to his hairstyle
Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, is accused of violating the CROWN Act, a law banning hair discrimination associated with race.

MONT BELVIEU, Texas (KTRK) -- For the second time in just a matter of weeks, a Barbers Hill ISD student is being punished for the length of his hair.

Darryl George's story made headlines earlier this month after he was initially suspended on Aug. 31 for wearing twisted dreadlocks. School officials said his dreadlocks fell below his eyebrows and ear lobes and violated the district's dress code.

The video above is from a previous report.

But when George returned to school at Barbers Hill High School on Monday, Sept. 18, he was suspended again, according to the Associated Press.

George's first suspension happened just before the CROWN Act went into effect on Sept. 1. The law, an acronym for "Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair," is intended to prohibit race-based hair discrimination and bars employers and schools from penalizing people because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists or Bantu knots. Texas is one of 24 states that have enacted a version of the CROWN Act.

A similar situation at Barbers Hill in 2020 led to the passage of the CROWN Act. In that incident, De'Andre Arnold was told to cut his long locks back then. He and others sued the district, and ultimately, this led to the law.

Monday's incident was emotional for 17-year-old George, whose mom said he was in tears.

"He has to sit on a stool for eight hours in a cubicle," his mother, Darresha George, told AP. "That's very uncomfortable. Every day he'd come home, he'd say his back hurts because he has to sit on a stool."

In George's family, all the men have dreadlocks, going back generations. To them, the hairstyle has cultural and religious importance, his mother said.

"Our hair is where our strength is, that's our roots," Darresha George said. "He has his ancestors locked into his hair, and he knows that."

SEE ALSO: Teen who inspired 'CROWN Act' testifies at Texas Legislature

Darresha George said her son has been growing his dreadlocks for nearly 10 years, and the family never received pushback or complaints until now. When let down, his dreadlocks hang above his shoulders but she said he has not worn his hair down since school started in mid-August. Darresha George said she couldn't understand how he violated the dress code when his hair was tied on top of his head.

"I even had a discussion about the CROWN Act with the principal and vice principal," she said. "They said the act does not cover the length of his hair."

Barbers Hill Independent School District prohibits male students from having hair extending below the eyebrows, ear lobes, or top of a T-shirt collar, according to the student handbook. Additionally, the hair on all students must be clean, well-groomed, geometrical and not an unnatural color or variation. The school does not require uniforms.

The district defends its dress code, which says its policies are meant to "teach grooming and hygiene, instill discipline, prevent disruption, avoid safety hazards and teach respect for authority."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.