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Black Student Darryl George Is Suspended Over Locs Again


Darryl George, the Texas high school student who earlier this year was removed from school because his hairstyle violated a dress code, was suspended again on Tuesday, the latest flashpoint in a monthslong dispute over a school policy that has spilled into the courts.

Mr. George, 18, had just returned to class at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, roughly 30 miles east of Houston, after spending time at an off-campus disciplinary program, where he had been sent over his violation of the school district’s dress and grooming policy and other infractions.

“While in class, he was told he was in violation of the school dress code policy for not cutting his hair and was again referred to in-school suspension,” Candice Matthews, a spokeswoman for Mr. George’s family, said in a statement.

A school official imposed a 13-day in-school suspension on Mr. George, the second suspension he had received this year over violation of the dress code.

Mr. George has spent most of his junior year, which began on Aug. 16, away from his regular classes. The case has captured the attention of state lawmakers and prompted Mr. George’s family to sue state leaders and the school district in federal court.

Mr. George’s first suspension came in late August. He was placed in a cubicle away from the classroom, and work was brought to him there, according to his mother, Darresha George.

In October, following that suspension, he was transferred to a disciplinary school.

A message sent to Barbers Hill Independent School District was not returned on Tuesday evening.

School officials say Mr. George’s hair violates the dress code, which mandates that a male student’s hair not “extend, at any time, below the eyebrows or below the earlobes.”

Mr. George has a hairstyle in which he pins his locs on his head in a barrel roll.

When pinned, Mr. George’s locs do not extend below the eyebrows or below the earlobes, but officials have told his mother that her son’s hair is still in violation of the policy because it would extend lower than allowed if let down.

The family argues in their lawsuit that the district policy violates the CROWN Act, a new Texas law that bars schools and employers from discriminating against hairstyles “commonly or historically associated with race.”

Rhetta Andrews Bowers, a Democrat in the State House of Representatives who wrote the law, had in the past criticized the school district, saying its dress policy is an attempt to “find loopholes and skirt the law.”

Ms. Matthews, who is also the vice chair of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, said in a statement on Tuesday that the school district was exploiting the law’s “vague language” to “push their racial discrimination agenda towards our children.”

The family was working with state lawmakers to amend the law so that it explicitly deals with the question of hair length, Ms. Matthews said.

Ron Reynolds, a Democrat in the State House and chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, said the CROWN Act was meant to protect hairstyles “regardless of length,” adding that he would introduce an amendment to clarify that in the next legislative session.

“They are acting in bad faith to continue discriminating against African American students,” he said in a statement provided by Ms. Matthews.

According to the citation issued to Mr. George on Tuesday, he will be allowed to return to his regular classes if he “corrects his dress code violation.”

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