Most pupils can continue to curl up and dye but more
extreme styles and colours are still banned despite a High
Court ruling yesterday, Otago principals say.
The Hastings pupil suspended after refusing to get a haircut
won his High Court battle yesterday to keep his long hair.
St John's College pupil Lucan Battison (16) was suspended
last month after failing to meet the school's ''off the
collar and out of the eyes'' policy.
A High Court judicial review in Wellington ruled in favour of
the year 12 pupil, stating the suspension and the school's
hair policy was unlawful.
Justice David Collins said Lucan was willing to wear his hair
tied back in a bun and when he did, his hair was above his
ears, off his collar and out of his eyes.
Otago principals contacted yesterday told the ODT the ruling
would not bring sweeping change to school policy.
Kavanagh College principal Tracy O'Brien said school policy
required hair to be ''neat and tidy'' and the decision was at
the discretion of senior staff.
The school ''shied away'' from listing what styles were and
were not allowed.
''Because it just gets too murky. You say to a student `You
can't have dreads' and they say `These aren't dreads, they're
Girls and boys were allowed long hair but it had to be off
the face and tied back, he said.
The school took a ''reasoned approach'' and if pupils
''pushed the boundaries'', the school organised a parent
meeting to resolve the situation without interrupting a
''We are clear about extremes - extraneous colours and styles
- if someone came in with a radical mohawk, they're probably
not going to survive the day.''
No pupil had been sent home for non-compliance since he had
worked at the school, he said.
Kaikorai Valley College principal Rick Geerlofs said the
school had no policy on hair.
''We do not dictate anything about length, or style, of hair.
The only thing we would have some reservations about is the
colour of hair.''
A pupil could colour their hair if it was dyed a natural
colour, he said. If a pupil had unnaturally coloured hair,
they would remain in school and a solution would be arranged
with the family.
Pupils were allowed dreadlocks, he said.
''It's not been a problem. We have some boys with quite long
Columba College principal Elizabeth Wilson said school policy
was for hair below the collar to be worn tied back and the
dyeing of hair was not permitted.
''We state that hairstyles should be in a style suitable for
No pupils had been suspended for a hairstyle that went
against school policy and the school was not considering
reviewing its policy, she said.
Mount Aspiring College principal Wayne Bosley, of Wanaka,
said the school had no ''hard and fast rules'' on hair
''We would not be questioning that, as part of our cultural
acceptance of students.''
Dunstan High School principal Brent Russell, of Alexandra,
said he did not believe the ruling would impact greatly on
''Schools may look at being more specific about their rules
but I think most are quite specific about what is permitted.
''Of course, it all depends on interpretation, too. We might
say boys will be clean-shaven but what that looks like for me
can be quite different to what it looks like for them, but
common sense has to prevail, surely.''
It was a shame the matter had escalated to the extent it did,
Mr Russell said.
''It should never have got to that stage. It's a shame the
parties couldn't get together, discuss it and sort it out
Wakatipu High School principal Steve Hall said his school's
policy was that hair had to be ''tied back for safety reasons
In his 18 months as principal at the school, there had not
been any issues with pupils' hair length, he said.
Although he had yet to read details of the High Court
decision, the school's policy for hair was quite liberal and
was unlikely to be reviewed.
Should schools be able to enforce a hair policy?
Telephone your answer today to the Otago Daily Times
Teletopics line (03) 467-7123. Dunedin area calls are free;
or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and
your comments may be considered for publication.