PEARLAND, Texas. - A Texas family filed a federal lawsuit against their son's school district on Sunday after staff drew on his scalp with permanent marker, saying that the line designs in the boy's haircut didn't meet the dress code, ABC News reported Monday.
The lawsuit, which names the Pearland Independent School District and three staff members as defendants, accuses them of racially discriminating against the boy. It claims that school officials at Berry Miller Junior High laughed as they used black Sharpie to fill in the line designs in seventh grader Juelz Trice's hair without his consent.
The suit, which described Trice's haircut as a "common African American 'fade' haircut with innocuous line design," alleges that a staffer told 13-year-old Juelz that his haircut violated the school's dress code in April. Juelz was sent to the clerk's office for disciplinary action.
That's when he was allegedly told that he either would have to fill in the design with marker, or face school suspension. The lawsuit said that neither the principal nor Juelz's parents were contacted before the discipline clerk took action.
"The Berry Miler Junior High School officials laughed as they took many minutes to color the 13 year-old Juelz's scalp which then took many days of scrubbing to come off. Juelz was immensely humiliated and shamed," Randall Kallinen, the family's attorney, said in a statement obtained by ABC News. "The school officials did not phone Juelz Trice's parents or hold any hearing as required by law. Had they been phoned, Trice's parents would have shortened Juelz's hair to get rid of the line design and he would have been back at school the same morning."
Since the incident, Pearland ISD has amended their dress code hairstyle policy, but Trice's parents say that it isn't enough. The suit alleges that the involved staff did not receive training on racial sensitivity after the incident, nor training onconstitutional law regarding students, or the Pearland dress code.
The boy's father, Dante Trice, says that they could have put his son at medical risk by putting chemicals on his pores, which would have been wide open from the recent haircut.
"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," a spokesperson said in April. "This latter practice is not condoned by the district and does not align with appropriate measures for dress code violations."
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory damages, according to ABC News.