A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed on Sunday against a Texas school district and three officials after they took disciplinary action for a student’s haircut, court documents say.
In April, school officials at Pearland Independent School District used marker to color in the design shaved into a 13-year-old boy’s haircut because they say it did not adhere to the district’s district code, KHOU reported.
The code states that “hair must be neat, clean and well-groomed. Extreme hair styles such as carvings, mohawks, spikes, etc. are not allowed,” according to the news outlet.
The boy, who is black, says officials told him he could either enter in-school suspension or have the design colored in with Sharpie, KTRK reported. The school’s then-assistant principal (who now serves as head principal), a teacher and a discipline clerk have all been named in the lawsuit along with the school district.
The complaint states that the discipline clerk and teacher laughed as they were filling in the boy’s hair and that the marker only made the design more visible, KHOU reported.
“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 complaint says, according to the news outlet.
The boy’s parents say they were never notified of the incident and would have cut their son’s hair that day if they’d known, KPRC reported.
“When it first happened, I was very upset because I didn’t find out until after he got off the bus and he got into the car and said, ‘Look what they did to my head,’” Angela Washington, the boy’s mother, said, according to KTRK.
After the incident, Pearland ISD released a statement saying, “A campus administrator mishandled disciplinary action by giving the student options including notifying his mother, disciplinary consequences or filling in the shape of the hair carving with a marker. This latter practice is not condoned by the district and does not align with appropriate measures for dress code violations.”
The statement also said the campus administrator was put on leave and that the district had apologized to those involved, KPRC reported.
At the time of publication, the school had not responded to the lawsuit, according to the news outlet.