College lets Lucan go to the ball after all

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 30/06/2014
lucan battison
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
LUCAN BATTISON: A win in court, but his school is taking a hard line.

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There were a lot of tears in the Battison household in the past five weeks.

But a call on Saturday afternoon to say 16-year-old Lucan could go to the school ball was the start of a new chapter after a highly-publicised High Court battle.

On Friday, the Hastings student won the war over keeping his long locks but it was the U-turn on a decision to ban him from his first St John's College ball that was the icing on the cake.

"It would have been disheartening if I couldn't go, especially because I can see the venue from my bedroom window," he said yesterday.

During last Monday's hearing, Justice David Collins asked the school to take Lucan back pending his ruling and without interim punishment.

However, Lucan said he was told on his return it was for "educational purposes only".

That was when he realised he wasn't welcome at rugby training or the school ball.

He had missed five weeks of school since being suspended on May 22 after ignoring requests to get a haircut.

Although catching up on missed class time in his NCEA level 2 year would be a struggle, he said his teachers were supportive and prepared to help him get up to speed.

The legal battle also cost a hefty amount and Lucan's dad, Troy Battison, said he would have to reconsider plans to cut down his hours at work.

"The judge ordered the school to cover legal costs but that will only be a percentage and I'm guessing it's still going to cost us tens of thousands of dollars."

Lucan said his initial reception at the ball was a "bit hyped up".

"Things calmed down though and everyone just treated me the same and it was cool to see my rugby mates."

He found the intense public scrutiny during the case the hardest thing to deal with.

"I don't think I've done anything huge. I've just stood up for what I believe in."

Lucan admitted the process had changed him but he had no plans to be a lawyer or human rights activist. "I've learnt a lot about how people judge you and how prejudiced they are and critical."

Battison, 41, said he would have been the first parent to defend the school and insist the boy involved get a haircut, if he hadn't been the parent in question.

"The first thing that would have come to mind is kids are getting away with everything these days, bring back the cane and discipline them.

"I understand that opinion. But there was more than met the eye in this case."

He still thought St John's was a great school.

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