Long-haired student allowed to return to school

  • Breaking
  • 26/06/2014

The parents of a long-haired Hastings teenager say the criticism they've received for challenging their son's school has been "hurtful and unnecessary".

Lucan Battison, 16, won his case at the High Court in Wellington with a judge ruling the school's decision to suspend him was unlawful.

The year 12 student was suspended from St John's College last month after new principal Paul Melloy ordered Lucan to cut his "boofy" hair and he refused.

Lucan's and his parents, Troy and Tania, sought a judicial review at the High Court in Wellington on Monday of Mr Melloy and the board of trustees' decision to suspend him.

This afternoon Justice David Collins ruled the suspension was unlawful because it did not comply with the Education Act, which states a student can only be suspended if the principal believes his or her behaviour is harmful or dangerous to other students.

In a statement, Lucan's parents said they are pleased with Justice Collins' decision to grant a judicial review, but are disappointed the case had to progress to the High Court.

"We do believe rules have a place, but they need to be reasonable and certain," the statement reads.

"The criticism we have received as parents has been hurtful and unnecessary. We love our son and we've always taught him to stand up for what he believes in. This is different to not having respect for the rules."

Mr and Mrs Battison say they believe St John's College is a good school, and their son wants to continue with his education and playing for the 1st XV.

Lucan's hair is naturally curly and reaches the top of his collar. He has cut it twice this year to comply with the school's rules, but has had the same style for more than three years.

After suspending Lucan, the school's board said his hair must be cut to the satisfaction of the principal upon his return to class.

The High Court ruled the conditions for Lucan to return to school were unreasonable because the rules do not state a student's hair must be cut to the satisfaction of the principal.

Mr Melloy, who started as principal in May, says he's "disappointed" with the judge's ruling but it's "business as usual" at St John's College.

"The board of trustees are taking time to consider the judgment made by Justice Collins in terms of its impact, both on our school and on other schools," says Mr Melloy. "It is not about the individual student but being able to manage our school in a positive equitable environment; this includes compliance with our rules."

The president of the Principals' Federation, Phil Harding, says the court's decision won't change anything, but it will make schools review their uniform and dress codes.

Justice Collins has granted Lucan's application for a judicial review, and the teenager returned to school for the first time since being suspended on Wednesday with his hair tied back.

In March Lucan received a bravery award for his part in the January 2013 rescue of two women at a Hawke's Bay beach.

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source: newshub archive