‘Conform to Black hair’: Protest held in Barbers Hill ISD superintendent’s neighborhood ahead of trial over CROWN Act

BAYTOWN, Texas – Community leaders and civil rights activists held a protest ahead of the trial for a Barbers Hill high school student who has been repeatedly disciplined for his hairstyle choice.

Candice Matthews, the statewide Chair of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, and those against the treatment of Darryl George gathered at the entrance to Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole’s neighborhood in Baytown.

Joining Matthews were the Chairman of New Black Panther Nation, Quanell X, a representative from the Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Mississippi Coalition to End Corporal Punishment, and other community leaders and civil rights organizations.

Both sides will go before a federal judge Thursday at the District Court in Anahuac. KPRC 2 Reporter Re’Chelle Turner will be in the courtroom for coverage.

The controversy began when George, an African-American student, was disciplined in August 2023 for his hairstyle, which the school district deemed non-compliant with its handbook.

Despite wearing his hair in locs, a style he had been growing for years but kept neat and protective, George faced repeated disciplinary actions. He has spent more than half of his junior year outside of the traditional classroom, moving from suspension to an alternative school, and eventually to In-School Suspension, where he has been for the past seven months.

During his time in ISS, George and his family described the treatment as inhumane, citing long hours seated on a hard stool and being served bologna for lunch daily.

They argue that the district’s actions violate the CROWN Act, a law passed in response to a similar incident at the same school in 2020. The CROWN Act, which stands for ‘Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,’ was enacted in Texas in September to prevent hair-based discrimination at work or in schools.

CLICK HERE FOR KPRC 2′S COVERAGE OF THE CROWN ACT

In response, George’s family filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency and a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state’s Governor, Attorney General, and the school district.

They allege that these entities failed to enforce the new law prohibiting discrimination based on hairstyles. In a countermove, the school district filed a lawsuit in state district court seeking clarification on whether its dress code restrictions for boys’ hair length violate the CROWN Act.

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About the Author

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio, and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.