A Black Texas high school student who has been suspended for more than a month over the length of his locs hairstyle has been referred to an alternative school, according to a notice sent to his mother from his school principal and obtained by CNN.
Darryl George, 18, will be placed in a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, also known as an alternative school, through Nov 29, the notice said.
The letter, signed by Barbers Hill High School principal Lance Murphy, cites violations for “multiple infractions of campus and classroom rules” including, “disruption of the ISS classroom, failure to comply with directives from staff/administration, violation of tardy policy and violation of the dress and grooming policy.”
“As the School Principal, I have determined that your child has engaged in chronic or repeated disciplinary infractions that violate the District’s previously communicated standards of student conduct,” Murphy writes in the notice.
The decision to send George to an alternative program is the latest escalation in a legal fight over whether the teenager’s locs hairstyle – which he often wears in braids or a ponytail – is a violation of the school district’s dress code which places limitations on how long a male students’ hair can be.
School officials had previously warned George and his family that continued violation of the dress code would result in a referral to an alternative program, CNN previously reported.
The George family refuses to cut the teen’s hair and argues the district’s policy is a violation of the Texas CROWN Act, a law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of hairstyles “commonly associated with race.”
Last month, George and his mother, Darresha, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general, and school officials for allegedly failing to enforce the law.
George will be allowed to return to class on November 30, according to the notice.
But the notice also states the family will not be able to appeal the referral to an alternative school. The letter cites the Texas Education Code, which states “if the period of placement in the alternative education program does not extend beyond 60 days … this decision is final.”
Greg Poole, superintendent of the Barbers Hill Independent School district, told CNN George was not referred to an alternative school because of his hair.
“Confidentiality does not allow us to disclose the infractions that caused his current disciplinary placement but it was unequivocally not because of his hair,” he said.
Allie Booker, an attorney for George and his family, called the move “retaliation” for the family’s ongoing legal dispute with the school district.
On Wednesday, a judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas denied a motion filed by the Barbers Hill Independent School district to remove the case from federal court, according to court documents.
“Today they filed a motion to pull (the case) out of the federal court and the judge struck the motion for non-compliance with court rules, so they retaliated by putting Darryl in DAEP,” Booker said, referring to the alternative school.
District officials denied Booker’s claim, saying administrators do not intend to enhance the current disciplinary action against the student for the ongoing violation of its grooming policy pending the court’s ruling on whether the district’s policy is legal.
Candice Matthews, a spokesperson for the family and a civil rights activist, told CNN George feels “horrible” about the referral but plans to show up for the program tomorrow. She also said George still does not plan to cut his hair.
The 18-year-old student has been serving in-school suspension since August 31 because of his locs, according to court documents.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct Darryl George’s age. He is 18 years old.