New Zealand schoolboy wins hair-raising legal fight

  • AFP, Wellington
  • |
  • Updated: Jun 27, 2014 04:10 IST

A New Zealand schoolboy won the right to keep his long hair on Friday after the nation's top court combed through the merits of an often tangled case and found in his favour.

Lucan Battison, 16, called in the lawyers after he was suspended from St John's College in Hastings last month for refusing to cut his mop of curly hair.

Sixteen-year-old Lucan Battison, left, with his lawyer, Jol Bates, arrives at the High Court in Wellington, New Zealand, where Battison was fighting his suspension from his Catholic high school because of his long hair. (AP Photo)

The Catholic school said it did not meet the school rule that hair be "off the collar and out of the eyes" and refused to accept his compromise offer of wearing it in a bun.

During the High Court hearing, Battison's solicitor Jol Bates said his client was standing up for his rights, likening him to US civil rights leader Martin Luther King and suffragettes who won the vote for women.

The case has enjoyed front-page coverage in New Zealand and generated heated debate on social media, with some accusing the school of being heavy handed and others saying Battison should obey the rules.

Judge David Collins sided with the teenager on Friday, finding the school's hair policy was open to interpretation and his refusal to cut his locks did not warrant suspension.

"(School) principals must ensure that serious disciplinary consequences are reserved for truly serious cases," he said in a judgement.

The school said in a statement that it was "naturally disappointed" with the decision but did not indicate whether it would appeal.

 

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