School Administrator on Leave After Using Permanent Marker to Fill in Black Student’s Haircut

A school administrator in Pearland, Texas was placed on leave after forcing a Black student to color in his new haircut with a permanent marker. The incident occurred on April 17 at Berry Miller Junior High School in the Pearland Independent School District (PISD).

The school district said a campus administrator told 13-year-old Juelz Trice that his haircut did not adhere with the school’s dress code. The administrator then gave the seventh grader a choice: be disciplined or fill in the haircut with a permanent marker, KPRC-TV reported. “He came over and said, ‘You have two options: you can either go to [in-school suspension] or color it in,” Juelz told KTRK. “Everyone was coming up to me. It was like the talk of the school that day and the day after.”

The teen’s parents told reporters that they only learned of what happened when Juelz returned home. Juelz's mother, Angela Washington, said she was “very upset” the school did not notify her about what they had done to her son. Juelz’s father, Dante Trice, said the school placed his son at medical risk after putting chemicals on open pores. The elder Trice told KTRK that his son’s pores were open because he had just gotten the haircut the day before.

Washington told KPRC-TV that she notified PISD about the incident on Monday, April 22, but they did nothing until a social media post about it gained traction. The school district released a statement on Tuesday, saying it was “extremely disappointed." “A student recently arrived at school with a haircut against district dress code. Pearland ISD’s dress code states: ‘hair must be near, clean, and well groomed. Extreme hair styles such as carvings, mohawks, spikes, etc. are not allowed,’” the statement began.

It continued, “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. This latter practice is not condoned by the district and does not align with appropriate measures for dress code violations.” The district said that the administrator was placed on administrative leave and that “further action is forthcoming.” Berry Miller Junior High School did not immediately answer a request for comment by The North Star.

Washington complained that the school district did not speak to her before issuing the statement. “They have been in touch with me minimally through this process, but they did apparently send a woman from the board of trustees to speak to my son without my involvement.” She called the district’s decision to have a school board member speak to Juelz without her knowledge “completely inappropriate.” Washington also said that punishing students for their hair style was “discriminatory.”

Washington also took issue on the lack of clarity regarding the administrator’s leave. “They decided to put this individual on administrative leave but do not indicate whether that leave is paid, whether they will rescind his promotion, what the timeline for action will be.” The administrator responsible called Juelz’s parents to share his side of the story, Washington told KTRK. “They were very apologetic, but it still happened,” she said. “You know, for an adult, no one should think that’s the correct way to handle a situation.”

The incident at Pearland ISD comes just days after a Houston school district principal issued a dress code for parents. Principal Carlotta Brown defended the new dress code, which some parents have claimed is racist and discriminatory towards women of color.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.