PEARLAND, Texas - A federal lawsuit has been filed against three Pearland Independent School District employees after being accused of coloring in student's haircut with a black permanent marker, KSAT.com's sister website, Click2Houston.com, reported.
The school district said that on April 17, a Berry Miller Junior High School campus administrator told the 13-year-old boy that his new haircut was in violation of the school's dress code and gave the boy the following options: notify his mother, receive disciplinary action or fill in the shape of the missing hair with a marker.
The student chose the last option.
What is the lawsuit saying?
The lawsuit claims the child's African-American "Fade" haircut with designed lines had violated the district's dress code policy.
"Despite this extremely shameful behavior and history of racial discrimination the Pearland ISD has doubled down and now installed Tony Barcelona as head principal of the Berry Miller Junior High School, kept Day and Peterson in their current positions, and refused to meet with Juelz's parents to discuss their behavior or any training of Pearland ISD employees," said civil rights and plaintiffs' lawyer Randall Kallinen."
The boy's parents said they were never notified about the code violation. They said if they would have been contacted, they would have shortened their son's hair to get rid of the line design that same day. The lawsuit claims the child was humiliated and shamed as the employees laughed while coloring in his hair design.
What is the district saying?
Pearland ISD released the following statement on April 24:
"Pearland ISD is extremely disappointed to learn of a situation that occurred at Berry Miller Junior High.
"A student recently arrived at school with a haircut against district dress code. Pearland ISD's dress code states: 'Hair must be neat, clean and well-groomed. Extreme hair styles such as carvings, mohawks, spikes, etc. are not allowed.'
"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 campus administrator is currently on administrative leave. Further action is forthcoming.
"District administration has contacted the student's family to express our sincerest apology and extreme disappointment in this situation, which does not fall in line with the values of Pearland ISD."
The district responded to the lawsuit on Monday saying, "Other than media reports, Pearland ISD has yet to receive notification of the lawsuit. Upon receipt, it will be reviewed by our legal counsel. No further comment will be provided at this time."
The student's parents along with an attorney will hold a press conference Monday at 2 p.m. at the Pearland Administration Building to discuss why they filed the lawsuit.
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