A Texas school administrator is coming under fire for taking a marker to a student’s head.
According to WWSB, Berry Miller Junior High School leaders told seventh-grade student Juelz Trice that his haircut violated the school’s dress code. So, the administrator held the shy, quiet boy down and colored in his hair with a black permanent marker.
“To hold my son against his will and color his hair, and he said they’re laughing while they’re doing it. That makes me even more mad. So, my kid is a joke?” said Juelz’s father, Dante.
The haircut had an abstract design similar to an EKG heartbeat, but that was somehow unacceptable to the school, though it’s unclear how. In a statement, the district said “extreme hair styles” are banned. Their examples were mohawks, spikes, and carvings, which are often used by Black men.
According to Juelz, he was threatened with in-school suspension unless he allowed the school staffer to use the permanent marker on his head. Holding a student down and coloring on their head “does not align with appropriate measures for dress code violations.”
“You should have been like, ‘OK, we need to call your mother first, to let her know what’s going on,’ and no one did that at all,” said Juelz’s mother, Angela.
Trice said that his son was humiliated and the chemicals in the marker could have put him at risk since the carving was new.
“It was wide open because he had just got his hair cut the day before, so it was wide open,” he said. “I’m totally disappointed.”
The school administrator admitted their mistake and called to apologize to the family.
“They were very apologetic, but it still happened,” his mother said. “You know, for an adult, nobody should think that’s the correct way to handle a situation.”
She noted that had the school called her she would have taken care of it.
Dress codes targeting hair often disproportionately target students of color. In years past, braided extensions have been labeled as “distractions” by white principals demanding teen girls do something more “natural.”
“Other black girls have been pulled out of class,” NPR reported about one Boston school. The girls were then “lined up, asked if they had hair extensions and given detention if they did.”
One mother at that school noted that another student with a natural texture to her hair was taken out of class and said she would need to “relax” or chemically straighten her hair before she came to school the following day.
One Houston cheerleader was threatened with being thrown off of her squad by the cheer coach who’s rules dictated hair must be “pulled back in a secure ponytail and “must not distract from the cheer environment.” In that case, the student got braided extensions so that she could more easily pull it back and secure it, as the policy dictated. The coach told the teen she wouldn’t be allowed to perform.
You can read the statement from Juelz’s school below: