A black student was suspended for his hairstyle. Now his family is suing Texas officials

HOUSTON (AP) — The family of a black Texas high school student suspended for his dreadlocks filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Saturday against the state’s governor and attorney general, saying they failed to enforce a new law banning discrimination based on hairstyles.

Darryl George, 17, a junior at Barber’s Hill High School in Mont Bellevue, has been suspended from school since Aug. 31. Officials at the Houston Area School District say the district is in violation of the code that fell below his eyebrows and earlobes. Dress code.

George’s mother, Tarresha George, and the family’s lawyer denied the teenager’s hairstyle violated the dress code, saying her hair was neatly tied in twisted dreadlocks on top of her head.

Darryl George’s supporters allege the Barbours Hill Independent School District’s suspension violates a state law that took effect Sept. 1.

The lawsuit also alleges that Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, in their official duties, failed to protect George’s constitutional rights against discrimination and violations of freedom of speech and expression. George “should be allowed to wear his hair the way he does … because the so-called neutral grooming policy has little to do with learning or safety and, when applied, disproportionately affects black men,” Allie Booker, The. The family lawyer wrote in the case.

Spokesmen for Abbott, a Republican, and Paxton did not immediately return emails seeking comment Saturday.

While the case is pending in court, a temporary restraining order has been filed to prevent George from being suspended from school.

“It’s time to bring the fight to Barbers Hill ISD. We’re going to drop the hammer of accountability in the face of racism,” Candice Matthews, national political minister of the New Black Panther Nation and spokeswoman for the George family, said in a statement Saturday.

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George’s mother filed the lawsuit in Houston federal court Recent legal action Taken in connection with the suspension.

On Tuesday, Tarresha George and her attorney filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency, alleging Darryl George was harassed and mistreated by school district officials over her hair and that her school suspension violated the Crown Act.

They allege that during his suspension, George was forced to sit on a stool for eight hours and was denied the free hot lunch he was entitled to. The agency is investigating the complaint.

Darresha George said she was recently hospitalized after her son had repeated panic and anxiety attacks caused by stress related to his suspension.

On Wednesday, the school district filed its own lawsuit in state court, asking a judge to clarify whether its dress code restricting student hair length for boys violates the CROWN Act.

Barbours Hill Superintendent Greg Poole said he believes the dress code is legal and teaches students to conform as a sacrifice that benefits everyone.

The school district said it cannot increase the current punishment against Darryl George while it awaits a ruling in its case.

The CROWN Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is intended to prevent race-based hair discrimination and prevents employers and schools from punishing people because of hair texture or protective hairstyles, including afros, braids, dreadlocks, and more. , twists or bandu knots. Texas is one of 24 states to enact a version of the law.

A federal version Passed Last year in the US House, but unsuccessfully in the Senate.

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A state representative who wrote Texas’ version of the Crown Act. Retta Bowers said Friday that George’s hairstyle is protected by the new law and called on the Barbers Hill School District to end his suspension.

“The Texas CROWN Act was enacted to prevent situations like this, and it is extremely disappointing to see Barbers Hill ISD trying to find loopholes to violate the law and perpetuate hair discrimination,” Bowers said in a statement.

George’s school previously clashed with two black male students over a dress code.

Barbers Hill officials told relatives De’Andre Arnold and Caden Bradford They are Their dreadlocks had to be cut In 2020. The families of the two students sued the school district in May 2020, after a federal judge ruled that the district’s hair policy was discriminatory. Their case, which gained national attention and is pending, helped Texas lawmakers approve the state’s CROWN Act. Upon returning to Bradford after the judge’s ruling, both students left the school.

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At X, formerly known as Twitter, Juan A. Follow Lozano: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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