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Bill Walton’s Lesson for Darryl George

Talk about learning the wrong lesson!

Darryl's parents moved him from a school without a dress code to one they deemed better that had one. They signed and agreed to abide by such and then reneged on their commitment & sued. And lost!

And taught the kid how to act like a jackass. Now his reputation won't advance his career ops in life unless he wants to become a race hustler like role model Al Sharpton.

Bill Walton’s Lesson for Darryl George

A Texas student falls foul of his school’s grooming standards and makes a federal case out of it.

By Jason L. Riley

Feb. 27, 2024 5:30 pm ET

In his 1997 memoir, “Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections,” Hall of Fame UCLA basketball coach John Wooden related a story about the importance of maintaining standards. In the early 1970s, the team had a rule against facial hair. When star center Bill Walton showed up to practice after a 10-day break wearing a beard, the following exchange occurred:

Wooden: “Bill, have you forgotten something?”

Walton: “Coach, if you mean the beard, I think I should be allowed to wear it. It’s my right.”

Wooden: “Do you believe in that strongly?”

Walton: “Yes, I do, coach. Very much.”

Wooden: “Bill, I have a great respect for individuals who stand up for those things in which they believe. I really do. And the team is going to miss you.”

“Bill went to the locker room and shaved the beard off before practice began. There were no hard feelings. I wasn’t angry and he wasn’t mad,” Wooden recalled. “I think if I had given in to him, I would have lost control not only of Bill but of his teammates.”

Mr. Walton, who went on to his own Hall of Fame career in the National Basketball Association, didn’t make a federal case out of the school’s grooming policy, but times have changed. Last year Darryl George, a high-school student in the Barbers Hill school district near Houston, was disciplined for violating his school’s policy on hair length.

Darryl, who is black, has long dreadlocks. The school’s dress code for boys says that hair may not “be gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes when let down.”

Because he refused to cut his dreadlocks, Darryl was assigned to in-school suspension. His family responded by filing a federal civil-rights lawsuit. A new Texas law, the Crown Act, prohibits schools and employers from discriminating based on someone’s hairstyle. The George family alleges that Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton allowed the school district to violate the new law.

Meanwhile, Barbers Hill officials asked a state court to clarify whether the Crown Act applies to hair length—which isn’t mentioned in the legislation—and last week Judge Chap B. Cain III of the 253rd District Court ruled in favor of the school district and upheld Darryl’s suspension. “The CROWN Act does not render unlawful those portions of the Barbers Hill dress and grooming restrictions limiting male students’ hair length,” Judge Cain said. The George family said it will appeal that ruling. The civil-rights suit is pending.

Greg Poole, superintendent of the Barbers Hill school district, has said the purpose of the dress code is to “teach grooming and hygiene, instill discipline, maintain a positive and safe learning environment, prevent disruption, avoid safety hazards, and teach respect for authority.” He told the Houston Chronicle that the George family moved to the district from one that had no restrictions on hair length and that Darryl’s mother had signed a student handbook that explained their new district’s grooming policy.

“We have African-American students not subject to the hair limitation length because they qualify for religious reasons,” Mr. Poole told the paper. “We do not have an exception for ‘I don’t want to follow the rules.’ ”

For Darryl’s defenders, however, this has nothing to do with following rules and everything to do with racism. “We are going to seek justice for black males . . . who have long been and are still being discriminated against,” said Allie Booker, an attorney representing the George family. State Rep. Ron Reynolds, a Houston-area Democrat who heads the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, said the school district is telling black students, “You either conform to our European standards of what a student should look like and dress like and act like, or else you’re going to face the same consequences as Darryl, and you won’t be allowed to attend school here.”

Darryl deserves equal treatment, not special treatment, and no one has presented evidence that he is a target of racial bias. The last thing he needs is to be surrounded by adults who encourage him to see any confrontation with people in authority as racially motivated and who insist on pretending that black people are still living in the 1950s.

Darryl is sitting alone in school instead of in a classroom with fellow students because he refuses to get a haircut. He says it’s “lonely,” but it’s also unnecessary. Racial disparities in income and employment often stem from racial disparities in education. People who want to make a martyr of this young man over a trendy hairdo aren’t doing him any favors.

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