A Texas high school administrator has been suspended after he forced a Black student to cover his hair design with a permanent marker.
The case has drawn outrage in Pearland, a city south of Houston, since a post detailing the incident and featuring photos of the boy emerged on Facebook last week.
The boy’s hairstyle featured the letter “M” on the left side of his head, which is a violation of the district’s dress code. When he arrived at Berry Miller Junior High a day after getting the new haircut, an assistant principal gave him three options: notify his mother, face disciplinary action or cover it with a marker.
Angela Washington, who appears to be his mother, wrote on the viral Facebook post that the administrator “decided to color my baby design with a PERMANENT MARKER” and never called her to inform her of the incident.
Washington could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
In a statement Tuesday, the Pearland Independent School District confirmed the boy’s haircut violated the dress code, which states, “Hair must be neat, clean and well groomed. Extreme hair styles such as carvings, mohawks, spikes, etc. are not allowed.”
The district said the administrator “mishandled” the case and the actions do “not align with appropriate measures for dress code violations.” The assistant principal, who has not been named, was placed on administrative leave.
“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 statement reads.
Mike Floyd, a member of the district’s board of trustees, shared Washington’s Facebook post and called for the assistant principal to be fired.
“This is unbelievably unacceptable,” he wrote. “The culture in Pearland ISD must change, and the assistant principal who did this must be fired.”
Washington’s post has been shared more than 3,100 times. Some of the 3,800 comments on her page call for a lawsuit against the district and several describe the incident as racist.
“For everybody sniping about ‘following the rules’ … Just because something is a rule, that doesn’t make it right,” Facebook user Maeryn Boirionnach wrote. “Many of these school and workplace appearance standards tend to unfairly target typically black or ethnic hairstyles as inappropriate or unprofessional. That’s not acceptable. And there is NOTHING that excuses scribbling on a kid’s head with a marker!!!”
Dress code violation or not, no administrator should alter any kid’s appearance. Ever.