Texas CROWN Act: Barbers Hill ISD student loses hair ban dispute

A Chambers County judge ruled schools can limit hair length in dress codes, even for natural hairstyles like dreadlocks. This comes as Barbers Hill ISD and student Darryl George clashed over the CROWN Act on Thursday. The CROWN Act is the new law protecting natural hairstyles and banning discrimination based on natural hair.

The legal battle between Barbers Hill Independent School District and Darryl George ended in a loss for CROWN Act activists in the courtroom. However, both sides still remain firm in their positions. 

Emotions ran high as a Chambers County Judge ruled in favor of Barbers Hill ISD by saying the CROWN Act protects male students’ hairstyles, but not their hair length. 

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"Over my body, we’ll be back here, and he’s going to try it right when he tried it the second time," said Allie Booker, George's attorney. 

Teary-eyed Darryl George and his mother were seen leaving the courtroom in disbelief. The 18-year-old Barbers Hill ISD student spent the majority of his junior year out of the classroom because of the length of his dreadlocks. 

"I started my dreads for a reason and that’s just to feel close to my people. Just to feel my ancestors," said George. 

He sued the school district after being suspended for his locs, saying the hairstyle is protected by the CROWN Act. Thursday's ruling showed the hairstyle’s length is not protected by the new law. 

"Darryl will have to continue to be in in-school suspension until the federal case kicks in," said Dr. Candice Matthews, of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats. 

Representative Ron Reynolds is the co-author of the CROWN Act. He also appeared as a witness in the trial. 

"We will file a new crown act that will include hair length because the school district is hellbent on finding a loophole. They want to violate the spirit of the law," said Reynolds. 

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Barbers Hill ISD said in a statement:

"The Texas legal system has validated our position that the district's dress code does not violate the CROWN Act and that the CROWN Act does not give students unlimited self-expression. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that affirmative action is a violation of the 14th Amendment, and we believe the same reasoning will eventually be applied to the Crown Act. High expectations have helped make Barbers Hill ISD a state leader in all things and high standards at school benefit all ethnicities. Falsely claiming racism is worse than racism and undermines efforts to address actions that violate constitutionally protected rights."

"Barbers Hill, we have a message for you. We’re not going anyway," said Reynold. 

Darryl George, his family, and his attorney say they don’t plan on backing down from this fight. They said they plan to appeal the court’s ruling.