Lucan's hair battle hits ball plans

JOANNAH MOIR
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2014
lucan battison
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
LUCAN BATTISON: A win in court, but his school is taking a hard line.

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A student who took on his school over his long locks may have won a court battle - but not without an impact on tonight's ball.

Lucan Battison, 16, was kicked out of class on May 22 after ignoring requests from St John's College to cut his hair. He offered to tie it back in a bun but this was unacceptable to the school.

Yesterday, Justice David Collins ruled in favour of the year 12 Hastings student, saying his suspension was unlawful - as was the hair rule set out by the school.

Lucan returned to college on Wednesday after Collins, during Monday's hearing, asked the school to take him back pending his decision and without interim punishment.

But the school put its foot down and told Lucan he wouldn't be attending the school ball, and when he showed up with his boots for first XV rugby practice earlier this week, he was told he couldn't train.

While yesterday's decision went in favour of Lucan, he had already told his date for the ball they wouldn't be going.

The Battisons' lawyer, Jol Bates, said that, while the court decision was a "landmark judgment", he found it remarkable the school had made a stand with the ball before yesterday's judgement.

"It [was] a highly questionable decision for the school to make considering the judge's [earlier] ruling."

Lucan and his parents, Troy and Tania, said they were pleased with the judgment but disappointed it had to go to the High Court. "Our preferred option all along was mediation."

While rules had a place, they needed to be "reasonable and certain", they said."Lucan never broke the rules. The rules which we signed up for, were ‘off the collar and out of the eyes'. Lucan's hair, whether in a hair-tie or not, has conformed to this, but the new principal shifted the goal posts."

In this case it was the school that did not follow the law, they said. "If people never questioned certain issues, we would be a very backward society today."

While support had been overwhelming, criticism they had received had 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 a respect for rules. He wears his uniform with pride and that will not change."

St John's College principal Paul Melloy said the school was disappointed by the decision. The board would be considering the judgment "in terms of its impact, both on our school and on other schools".

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"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."

KEY PLAYERS

Troy, Tania and Lucan Battison

"We love our son and we've always taught him to stand up for what he believes in. This is different to not having a respect for rules. He wears his uniform with pride and that will not change."

Paul Melloy, principal of St John's College

"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."

Justice David Collins

"Principals need to be able to enforce appropriate levels of behaviour and standards. However, it is also important for principals to exercise their disciplinary powers in accordance with the way Parliament has prescribed."

- This story has been amended; punishments dished out earlier this week were superseded by Friday's judgment.

- The Dominion Post

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