black student sharpie haircut
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Another black student has been humiliated by school faculty over hair.

Pearland Independent School District in Texas is being hit with a lawsuit by parents Dante Trice and Angela Washington, who say faculty at Berry Miller Junior High School disciplined their son, J.T., by using a black Sharpie marker to color in the boy's fade haircut, which staffers allege violates the school's dress code.

According to the suit, the 13-year-old got a "fade haircut with a design line" on April 16, featuring a track — like an artificial hair part — resembling the letter M.

"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," the suit stated, according to NBC News.


On April 15, principal Tony Barcelona (then the assistant principal) ordered J.T. to go to the discipline office because he was "out of dress code." Berry Miller's discipline clerk, Helen Day, told J.T. he could either take in-school suspension, which would cause the seventh-grader to miss classes and lose his place on the track team, or have the design disguised with marker.

He decided to take the latter punishment "under great duress," as the student had never before been disciplined at school, and didn't want to "have a first time suspension on his school record and be kicked out of track," the lawsuit said.

Adding to his mortification, a teacher, Jeanette Peterson, joined Day and Barcelona in taking turns coloring his fade, allegedly laughing while doing so.

"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 stated.

It continued, "It is commonly understood among scholars and the general public that depicting African Americans with jet black skin is a negative racial stereotype."

The permanent ink didn't wash out of J.T's scalp for days, and he was mocked by other students, one calling him a "thug," and others creating social media memes to make fun of him. The suit claims the situation caused the student "mental anguish," anxiety and depression.

Before filing the suit, which seeks monetary damages, Trice and Washington sought the district superintendent directly, but were never acknowledged. Then their attorney sent a letter demanding discrimination training. Still, the district did not respond.

"Due to the lack of training, lack of proper policies, lack of employee discipline, failure to fire or reassign the individual defendants, and pattern of racial discrimination, J.T. is likely to experience further instances of discriminatory actions at the Pearland ISD," the suit reads.

The staffers did not respond to requests for comment; however, the Pearland Independent School District told NBC News that they have "yet to receive [official] notification of the lawsuit." Their statement continued, "Upon receipt, it will be reviewed by our legal counsel. No further comment will be provided at this time."

A previous statement by the district regarding dress code said, "Hair must be neat, clean and well groomed. Extreme hair styles such as carvings, mohawks, spikes, etc. are not allowed." They go on to note that "filling in the shape of the hair carving with a marker ... is not condoned by the district and does not align with appropriate measures for dress code violations."

While NBC News is told the administrator who "mishandled disciplinary action" was placed on leave, they do not specify which faculty member. Barcelona has been promoted to school principal since the incident.

The district has also since updated its dress code to "identify and remove any perceived racial, cultural and religious insensitivities," and eliminated restrictions on fade haircuts.