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Published on February 22, 2024
Houston Judge Upholds High School Dress Code, Leaving Student in Disciplinary Quandary Over Dreadlock LengthSource: Facebook/Ron Reynolds

In Houston, Texas, the legal tangle over high school student Darryl George's dreadlock discipline case thickens, with a judge deciding Thursday against expanding the CROWN Act to include hair length in school dress codes, Fox26 reports. Barbers Hill Independent School District can continue enforcing its hair code, which led to George's in-school suspension and off-site disciplinary assignment for his hairstyle. The CROWN Act, designed to prevent discrimination based on natural hair and hairstyles, evidently doesn't cover the length of George's locs; however, it does guard against discrimination of hair textures and styles such as Afros, braids, and twists.

According to Fox26, the 18-year-old student has been grappling with the school's dress code ever since the new law banning hair discrimination was enacted in September, Barbers Hill ISD holds that while dreadlocks are allowed male students's hair cannot flout a prescribed length that George's locs have exceeded this measure leading to disciplinary action. State Representative Ronald Reynolds, co-author of the CROWN Act, and George's mother testified in court, reinforcing the view that the suspension was undue and discriminatory. Chamber County judge's stance has left the student spending most of the school year in disciplinary limbo. The dispute has drawn not only local but also national attention to the nuances and gaps within anti-discrimination legislation.

George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School, expressed feelings of stress and frustration over what he views as unjust punishment, and his mother Darresha questioned why the district would hinder her son's desire for education, as ABC13 detailed. The case echoes previous challenges against the district's hair policy; two students filed a federal lawsuit back in May 2020, garnering temporary relief from a federal judge who noted the potential violation of the student's rights.

Superintendent Greg Poole remains steadfast, defending his district's policy in a Houston Chronicle paid ad, citing higher academic performance and safety in traditional dress code enforcement, and making a broad brush claim that "being an American requires conformity," according to ABC13. Alongside, Texas Representatives Rhetta Bowers and Ronald Reynolds, also CROWN Act co-authors, are standing by George, with Bowers asserting the law does protect his hairstyle; meanwhile, George's family has escalated the issue filing complaints with state bodies and a federal lawsuit seeking enforcement of the CROWN Act to prevent what they feel is unjust treatment from the school district.