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Texas Judge Sides with School District in Hairstyle Dispute

— February 23, 2024

Legislators and other supporters of the CROWN Act have criticized the court’s ruling, saying that the judge misinterpreted new statutes meant to protect discrimination on the basis of “protective hairstyles” associated with race, ethnicity, and culture.

A Texas state judge has found that Barbers Hill High School broke no law when it told a Black high school student he could no longer attend class after refusing to change his hairstyle.

According to ABC News, 18-year-old Darryl George was banned by his school district from attending regular classes at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu. Since last August, George has been redirected to in-school suspension and an off-site disciplinary program.

In its initial decision to discipline George, school officials said that the teenager’s dreadlocks violated the district’s dress and grooming code.

“I am being harassed by school officials and treated like a dog,” George told The Texas Tribune earlier this year. “I am being subjected to cruel treatment and a lot of unkind words from many adults within the school including teachers, principals, and administrators.”

However, even after George and his family tried taking legal action against the school, officials refused to offer any concessions—with some Barbers Hill educators going so far as to suggest that George intentionally violated policy in the hope of securing a court-ordered award.

Greg Poole, the district’s superintendent, recently published a full-page advertisement in the Houston Chronicle, in which he claimed that “conformity” offers a range of “positive” benefits.

Image of posters at an immigration rally
Posters at a Immigration Rally; image courtesy of StockSnap via Pixabay,

“Our military academies in West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs maintain a rigorous expectation of dress,” Poole wrote. “They realize being an American requires conformity with the positive benefits of unity, and being a part of something bigger than yourself.”

“His guardian understood fully what our rules and regulations were, yet still enrolled and shortly thereafter we hear from an activist and lawyer,” Poole wrote in another statement.

And, on Thursday, a Texas judge largely sided with the district, saying that it may continue penalizing George his continued non-compliance.

The Tribune notes that attorneys for both sides “faced off in a shorty trial before Judge Chap B. Cain III,” who found that the district’s policies did not violate the Texas CROWN Act.

Under the CROWN Act, Texas schools and other entities cannot engage in discrimination on the basis of “hair texture or protective hairstyles associated with race.”

Interestingly, legislators and other proponents of the act say that hairstyles like George’s are exactly what they had intended to protect in authoring the bill.

“I believe the CROWN Act is good because it was filed to protect kids who were being discriminated against in Barbers Hill ISD. The fact that the judge and Barbers Hill misinterpreted it—and I’m not even gonna say they even have a bad intent. You know what I’m gonna say? They don’t have any cultural confidence and that’s why they didn’t understand it,” said Texas Legislative Black Caucus Rep. Jolanda Jones. “Your hairstyle doesn’t determine whether you can learn or not, but the whole point—his hair was pulled back; his hair was above his eyebrows. So it’s not about that, right? Otherwise they would’ve made an exception for it.”

Poole, in the meantime, has maintained that the court’s finding was a vindication of the district’s position.

“High expectations have helped make Barbers Hill ISD a state leader in all things and high standards at school benefit all ethnicities,” he said. “Falsely claiming racism is worse than racism and undermines efforts to address actions that violate constitutionally protected rights.”


A Texas school has punished a Black student over his hairstyle for months. Neither side is backing down.

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Judge sides with Barbers Hill ISD in hair discrimination trial involving high school student

School punishment for Black student’s hair is legal in CROWN Act lawsuit, judge rules

Texas school did not violate CROWN Act by suspending Darryl George for hairstyle, judge rules

Texas school legally punished Black student over hairstyle, judge says

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