The policy led to the suspension of two Black students over having dreadlocks earlier this year.
A Texas school board has doubled down on a grooming policy that led to the suspension of two Black students over having dreadlocks earlier this year.
This week, Barbers Hill Independent School District unanimously voted to keep a policy that forbids male students from keeping their hair at a length “below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes,” according to NPR.
An attorney for the school district, which is in Mont Belvieu, Texas, said the policy had nothing to do with race, and instead is about maintaining a standard of excellence in Barbers Hill schools.
“They want the standards without having to meet the standards,” Hans Graff, the district’s attorney, said, according to Houston Public Media. “They want to be treated differently. They’re saying, ‘We want the academic excellence, we want the excellence of Barbers Hill. But we don’t want to comply with what it takes to achieve that.’”
The two students who were suspended over their dreadlocks earlier this year — cousins Kaden Bradford and De’Andre Arnold — have since transferred to another district. Prior to Arnold’s leaving from the district, school officials told him he wouldn’t be able to go to the senior prom or walk in his high school graduation until he cut his dreadlocks.
In May, the boys’ parents sued the district and asked the court to overturn its grooming policy.
“Black students are and have been disproportionately targeted and penalized for violating facially race-neutral grooming policies that are designed to, and have the effect of, profiling, singling out, and burdening Black children for wearing their hair in its natural state,” the complaint reads. “These grooming policies ultimately present Black students with an unfair choice: either wear their hair in natural formations and be deprived of adequate educational resources or conform their hair to predominant Eurocentric hair aesthetics to receive the same educational opportunities as their white peers.”
During the hearing, U.S. District Judge George Hanks denied their motion for a temporary restraining order to allow Arnold to attend his graduation, but permitted the lawsuit to proceed.