Parents stand firm on Lucan's locks

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:03 17/06/2014
Lucan Battison

TIDY OR REBELLIOUS?: Lucan Battison, 16, suspended because his hair was too long, wants his school to agree to allow him to tie it back, as pictured, rather than cut it off.

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Who do you side with in the hair-length saga between Lucan Battison and St John's College?

The pupil ... let him grow his hair

The school ... rules are rules

Both parties' cases have some merit ... find a compromise

Cut this madness short ... Incredulous that this has gone to court.

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The 16-year-old student suspended for having long hair could be back at college while waiting for his court hearing - if he agrees to a haircut.

Lucan Battison was suspended from St John's College in Hastings on May 22 and hasn't been back since.

The school's lawyer said yesterday that his suspension was lifted by the board of trustees on May 30, to allow him to return on the condition that he cut his hair first.

But his parents are standing firm, and still intend to go to the High Court on Monday to seek a judicial review of the school's decision.

Father Troy Battison said yesterday: "Lucan has always maintained he wants to go back to school, but he wants to be able to tie his hair back and, to be honest, it looks tidier tied up anyway."

He said he could understand the school wanting to instil respect and discipline in students, "but my son knows both of those, whether his hair is tied back or not".

Lucan told TV One last night he did not think it was fair "to be excluded from school just because of my appearance".

"It's just stressful . . . I feel like I've got no motivation to do anything. It sucks being away from rugby as well."

His father, who has long dreadlocks, said: "We've made at least half a dozen attempts at having mediation with the school, but they've turned it down and the offer still stands, so hopefully that might change before it goes to court."

There were students with tattoos at the school, including facial ones that could only be covered if the student wore a balaclava, yet the school turned a blind eye to that, he said.

"If there's going to be flexibility with that, then why can't there be flexibility with my son, when his hair would actually look tidier tied back anyway?"

At some point during the past four years, the state integrated Catholic school's policy on hair had changed, he said. "The contract we signed four years ago stated ‘out of the eyes and off the collar', which is exactly what Lucan's hair is like when it's tied back."

The school had suspended Lucan for continual disobedience, which under the Education Act meant his behaviour was a "harmful or dangerous example to others at school", Troy Battison said.

"I'm not sure where that applies with Lucan's hair, as it's not harmful or dangerous to others."

He said he received a phone call from the school in March, saying his son's hair did not comply with the rules and needed to be cut.

Lucan got a haircut, and his father said he did not hear anything from the school again until May 20 - two days before Lucan was suspended. "Lucan rang and asked me to come get him because a teacher had told him to get out and leave."

Two days later Battison, Lucan's mother and Lucan sat down with the principal and, within an hour, a suspension had been issued, Battison said.

"If Lucan had been continually disobedient, why hadn't we heard anything about it or been informed?"

He said mainstream and social media criticism of the family's actions had been unfair and harmful to Lucan.

They included a comment from Seven Sharp host Mike Hosking, who advised Lucan last week to "pull your head in, get your hair cut, and get back to the classroom, because life is too short".

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Battison said: "There have been tears for Lucan because of the comments being made, and we've just told him not to listen to any of it."

* Paragraph 7 in a previous version of this story mistakenly quoted Lucan as telling TV One he did not think it was fair "to be excluded from school just because of my parents".

- The Dominion Post

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