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New Zealand schoolboy wins right to keep hair long

Rather than cut his locks, the student and his family take their case to court after principal suspends him

Wellington: A judge ruled that a New Zealand schoolboy need not cut his hair before returning to class and that his Catholic high school had been wrong to suspend him for having long locks.

Lucan Battison
Lucan Battison was suspended from St John’s College in the town of Hastings. Principal Paul Melloy had said Battison had breached a rule that states students must keep their hair short, tidy, off their collars and out of their eyes. Pic/AP

Sixteen-year-old Lucan Battison was suspended last month from St John’s College in the town of Hastings. Principal Paul Melloy said Battison had breached a rule that states students must keep their hair short, tidy, off their collars and out of their eyes.

But Battison argued his naturally curly hair would look unruly if cropped and he was prepared to wear it in a bun to comply with the school’s standards. Rather than cut his hair, the student and his family took their case to court.

In his decision, New Zealand High Court judge David Collins found the schoolboy’s actions weren’t harmful or dangerous to other students, didn’t amount to serious misconduct, and therefore didn’t warrant suspension. He also found St John’s didn’t provide enough clarity in its hair rules to ensure students could comply with them.

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