School dress codes have long been a contentious issue for parents and students alike, with many stating they unfairly target students based on race and gender. One middle school student in the Houston area was recently called out for his hair cut, which was close-cropped and featured a fade that shaved a pattern into his hair, for violating his school dress code. What happened next has caused that student's parents to sue the school district and school officials.
Dante Trice and Angela Washington's son, Juelz Trice (J.T.), got the haircut on April 16, his parents told CNN. When he went to school the next day an assistant principal told the 13-year-old to go to the office. Once there the middle schooler was allegedly told that his hair cut was a violation of the school's strict dress code and he could use a Sharpie to color in the fade lines in his haircut, or he could serve an in-school suspension. Not wanting to affect his eligibility on the school's track team, Trice opted for the Sharpie.
The parents of a middle school student are suing a Houston-area school district and school officials in federal court for allegedly coloring in his hair design earlier this year with a black permanent marker https://t.co/NVengGHlLG— CNN (@CNN) August 21, 2019
Dante Trice and Angela Washington, who along with their son are African American, have filed a lawsuit against Pearland Independent School District, as well as Berry Miller Junior High School Principal Tony Barcelona, discipline clerk Helen Day, and teacher Jeanette Peterson, who are all white, as noted by the complaint, as a result of the actions.
Officials allegedly claimed that the student's haircut violated the school's dress code policy. According to the lawsuit, "The haircut did not depict anything violent, gang-related, obscene or otherwise offensive or inappropriate in any manner. J.T. did not believe the haircut violated any school policy," reported NBC.
The parents state they were never contacted about the dress code violation and state in their lawsuit that the school officials "laughed as they took many minutes to color 13-year-old J.T's scalp which took many days of scrubbing to come off." The lawsuit also alleges that the Sharpie only made J.T.'s fade stand out even more. "The jet-black markings did not cover the haircut design line but made the design more prominent and such was obvious to those present at the very beginning of the scalp blackening process," the suit said.
In the lawsuit, the parents are asking for compensatory and punitive damages and for the court to order that school district employees receive racial sensitivity training about certain haircuts, according to CNN.