The superintendent of a Texas school district has drawn new criticism over suspending a Black student over his locs hairstyle after defending the district in a full-page newspaper ad in the Houston Chronicle. Greg Poole, the top official at Barbers Hill ISD since 2006, says the district's Education Foundation took "the unprecedented step of buying advertising to ensure an unaltered response" after the Houston Chronicle's Editorial Board published an opinion piece on December 21.
The editorial was published a few weeks after Barbers Hill High School student Darryl George was placed in in-school suspension in early December, the same day he completed a 30-day stint at the school district's alternative school. He was initially suspended in September over a dress code violation related to his hair, the same month Texas' CROWN Act went into effect.
According to the Houston Chronicle, George initially was suspended for wearing his hair in dreadlocks pinned up in a barrel roll. The Barbers Hill ISD student handbook says male students are prohibited from having hair below the eyebrows or below the ear lobes," and hair cannot reach "below the top of a T-shirt collar or be gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below the top of a T-shirt collar, below the eyebrows or below the ear lobes when let down."
The full page ad published on Sunday, January 14, rebukes the editorial board's criticism of the dress code and claims that loosening the rules would "have us lose sight of the main goal of educational excellence by pursuing politically oriented 'lesser' goals." He also criticizes the editorial board's position as "consistent with every single media representation of this topic nationwide."
Poole said his four decades as an educational professional "tells me districts relax their dress code expectations because they simply get tired of enforcing it and pursue easier, lesser goals."
"Our military academies at West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs maintain a rigorous expectation of dress. They realize being an American requires conformity with the positive benefit of unity, and being a part of something bigger than yourself," Poole wrote.