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A Black Texas student suspended for his hairstyle is shifted to an alternative school

Darryl George will be sent to an alternative school program, from Oct. 12 through Nov. 29 for "failure to comply" with multiple campus and classroom regulations, the Barbers Hill High School principal said in a letter.
Michael Wyke
/
AP
Darryl George will be sent to an alternative school program, from Oct. 12 through Nov. 29 for "failure to comply" with multiple campus and classroom regulations, the Barbers Hill High School principal said in a letter.

A Black high school student in Texas who was suspended for more than a month for wearing a natural hairstyle was removed from his school on Wednesday and transferred to an alternative school.

Darryl George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu (a town roughly 30 miles outside of Houston) will be placed in a disciplinary alternative education program through Nov. 29, according to a notice sent from the school district and shared by the student's family.

The notice, dated Wednesday, addressed to Darryl's mother, Darresha George, and signed by Barbers Hill High School Principal Lance Murphy, cites violations of "multiple infractions of campus and classroom rules" including:

  • 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.


All of the alleged infractions excluding the tardiness are apparently connected to his natural hairstyle. Darryl will be allowed to return to class on Nov. 30, the notice states.

"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 notice obtained by NPR.

Darryl, who turned 18 last week, wears his natural hair in locs, which he says are an "expression of cultural pride," according to a federal lawsuit filed last month by the family against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the state's attorney general and the school district.

Allie Booker, an attorney representing the George family, told NPR that the recent move by the school district is simply "retaliation."

Candice Matthews, a civil rights activist and spokeswoman for the George family, said Darryl feels scared as he stands in front of the building for the alternative school.

She also said that Darryl still does not plan to cut his hair.

"Why do they hate us so much? Our skin is our sin," Matthews told NPR.

In a 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."

Last month, Darryl and Darresha George filed a federal lawsuit in Texas Southern District Court, arguing that the student'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 new law "prohibits grooming policies addressing the length of a male student's hair."

The student was suspended from the school just before the Texas law wentinto effect statewide on Sept 1.

Darryl's suspension continues to generate questions about the legality of punishing students for their hair and the extent of the newly passed law's protections.

So far, 24 states along with the U.S. Virgin Islands have signed the CROWN Act into law. Texas was the 24th 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.

Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.
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