You expect school officials to keep your children safe and maintain order on school grounds. Parents of a middle school student from Houston, TX, though, claim their local school officials went far beyond the scope of their work after using a permanent marker to color in their son’s hair.
The parents filed a lawsuit against the school district on Sunday which alleges, “They laughed as they took many minutes to color 13-year-old J.T.’s scalp which took many days of scrubbing to come off.”
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Parents Dante Trice and Angela Washington were never notified before the school used a Sharpie on their son, according to their lawyer, Randall Kallinen.
The lawsuit, which asks for compensatory and punitive damages, says that officials at the Berry Miller Junior High in Pearland, Texas, claimed the hair design violated the school district’s dress code policy.
School Staff Uses Permanent Marker to Color in Student’s Hair: A Summary of the Lawsuit
Juelz Trice had gotten a fade haircut on April 16. When he went to school the next day, he was asked to go to the office.
The civil rights lawsuit alleges then-assistant principal Tony Barcelona, discipline clerk Helen Day, and teacher Jeanette Peterson were all involved in the alleged incident. The suit further claims the student, who is African-American, was given two options: use a black Sharpie to color in the design or go to in-school suspension. Juelz chose the Sharpie because in-school suspension would put his track team eligibility at risk.
Juelz attempted to color in the design line, but Day and Peterson, both named in the suit, ultimately took the marker to fill it in completely.
The school district has since changed the dress code, removing the restriction on hairstyles and carvings.
A lawyer for the school, Tanya Dawson, said the school district will review the suit once it’s received.
Juelz returned to school last week, beginning the eighth grade. Barcelona, Day and Peterson are still on staff at the school.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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