Texas Teen Continues School Suspension Over Dreadlocks: Judge Rules in Favor of School District

MONT BELVIEU, Texas — A teenager in the Barbers Hill Independent School District will remain in school suspension after a judge ruled against him in a case involving a violation of the Texas Crown Act. The 18-year-old, Darryl George, refused to cut his dreadlocks, prompting the district’s reprimand. Chambers County Judge Chap Cain recently decided in favor of Barbers Hill ISD, stating that the district did not violate the Texas Crown Act.

Dr. Candace Mathews of the Texas Democratic Black Caucus expressed disappointment with the decision, mentioning that Darryl will have to continue his in-school suspension until the federal case is resolved. In September, the school district argued that George’s dreadlocks exceeded the allowed length according to the dress and grooming code, as they extended past the collar, eyebrows, and ear lobes.

Supporting different viewpoints, Jerrolyn Williams, owner of barber trade schools in Beaumont, believes that any hairstyle, including twists or dreadlocks, can be professional as long as it is well-maintained and neat. Meanwhile, at the Tekoa Academy of Accelerated Studies of STEM in Port Arthur, the hair code was modified three years ago, allowing students to wear braids or locks. Superintendent Princess Chretien mentioned that every school has its reasons for such changes, emphasizing that personal expression should not hinder education.

The George family has vowed to appeal the ruling, arguing that Darryl’s hair is a reflection of his black culture. The teenager left the Chambers County courtroom with tears in his eyes, covering his head with his hood. To pursue their case further, George’s lawyer is working on obtaining an adjunction for the federal case.

The decision in this case highlights the ongoing debate regarding personal appearance and freedom of expression within school dress and grooming codes. It also raises questions about the cultural implications of such policies and the need for sensitivity towards diverse backgrounds and traditions. Discussions around these issues will likely continue to shape policies and decisions concerning students’ individuality and self-expression.