Teen, school at odds on hairstyle

Taieri College pupil Kurtis Bain has been told: get a haircut or don't come to class. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Taieri College pupil Kurtis Bain has been told: get a haircut or don't come to class. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Kurtis Bain describes his hairstyle as ''funky''.

Taieri College sees it as ''extreme'', and the 15-year-old has been told he will not be allowed to return to class until it has been rectified.

Kurtis' father Philip, of Dunedin, contacted the Otago Daily Times yesterday, angry his son had been given an ultimatum: cut your hair or you can't come back to class.

Kurtis' hair had been in a mohawk style - shaved short on the sides, but long on top - for the past four weeks, Philip Bain said.

''At first they wouldn't accept that. They said get rid of the back part. So, we did that.

''Then they said crop the top. So we did that, and they said that's not good enough, either.''

Now, the hair has been combed over, to look similar to American rapper Macklemore.

But the school still does not approve and has asked Kurtis to shave it all off.

''I said 'What's wrong with it?' and they said 'We just don't like it','' Mr Bain said.

''I'm refusing to do that. There is nothing wrong with the hairstyle.

''He will have to shave his head completely bald to go back to school, and I'm not going to go that far just so he can go back to school.''

Principal David Hunter said Taieri College had a very simple rule: hair had to be kept neat and tidy, and ''extreme versions'' of hairstyles were not allowed.

''It's our judgement that his hairstyle is heading towards the more extreme.

''We don't think it sits within our school guidelines.''

The college was in a ''damned if we do and damned if we don't'' situation, Mr Hunter said.

''If we don't put in a set of rules, we have anarchy.

''And if someone doesn't agree with a school rule, for whatever reason, and we don't enforce it, we have the same situation.

''We shouldn't apologise for sticking to school rules.''

Mr Hunter did not want the situation to escalate to the same level as that reached by St John's College (Hastings) pupil Lucan Battison (16), who successfully fought in court recently to keep his locks after he was suspended from school for refusing to cut his hair.

''We'll find some common ground and move forward. I don't want Kurtis' education to be compromised.''

Mr Hunter said he would like to see Kurtis' hair shortened on the top, so it was more in ''proportion'' with the lack of hair around the sides.

''I don't think that's a particularly untoward request, is it?

''We've got better battles that we would rather be having, than arguing with parents over haircuts. Goodness me.''

Mr Bain said he was angry it appeared his son was being singled out by Taieri College.

''I've seen other kids there with totally 'out of it' haircuts, and just because he trimmed it a bit more, they've turned around and said 'no, that's not acceptable'.''

''If you're going to single him out, why aren't you singling others out?''

Mr Bain said Kurtis was getting good grades at school, but conceded he had been in trouble in the past.

Mr Hunter disagreed with Mr Bain's claim there were other pupils at the school with extreme hairstyles.

''I can't name a pupil that has a haircut of similar style to what he has at this particular stage.''

Mr Bain said he would take his son to school again today in the hope an agreement could be reached.


Pupil's haircut

It makes him look like Antonie Dixon. Why would anyone want to look like that?

Don't blame the school for objecting.  

Hair do

I completely agree with the comment from Missy222. In fact I experienced the lack of respect firsthand this afternoon when questioning a pair of (approx) 8 year olds climbing on the roof of the bus shelter outside my house. They offered no reply and just looked then continued with what they were doing. So I spoke again and started approaching and still no response but they did get down.

I have friends in the police and military and have never seen any in those services with a hair do like this. In my day if I arrived at school looking like that, I would have been the laughing stock of the school and I'm surprised that doesn't hold true today.

Schools, like employers have rules. Doesn't matter if you agree with those rules or not. Obey them or get out. [Abridged]

Battison take two

Battison won a judicial review because the school's rules were too vague and uncertain. Taieri should wise up and realise they screwed up their own rules...the taxpayer doesn't want to fork out for another couple of hundred grand for another school to be told to get over itself....


I wouldn't worry if I was the school.

The humiliation from his fellow students should sort it out, he will have a "Number One" in no time. [Abridged]

Sorry, what?

From this angle his hair looks pretty good. I don't see what the issue is - in fact I have my hair done in a very similar fashion most of the time. As someone else here alluded to that haircut (looking at this angle) looks very similar to what a police officer or soldier may have.

Very silly school rule if this is not allowing him to attend class, better off finding another school.... 

What bothers me

What bothers me is not so much the hair or the school having an issue with it, but the ODT deciding to report negative stories about a school on the front page, and relegating the fantastic good news stories about the school to tiny little articles in the Taieri supplement paper.

What about the fact that 22 of 29 pupils recieved prizes at the recent Science fair?  Or how about the 1st XV in the final for the second year running ( and managing to do this with all local students who have always attended Taieri College ).

Come on ODT, I know sensational news sells papers, but it's really not a front page issue.  How about celebrating all the great things about the local school! 

Come on Dunedin

First, this article on the front page and then over a few more pages is an article about not being able to ride a skateboard in town. What are you trying to do to the youth of Dunedin? Chase them out of town? These people are our future. We need to move ahead with the times and learn to accept what they are doing or we are going to end up being a city of tired old grumpy people. No wonder the youth leave Dunedin either right after high school or after finishing Uni.

The court upheld the last case of this...take two?

Is it really so awful? Is it stopping him learning, attending school, doing homework? Is it stopping anyone else? Will it cost the school money to defend their actions if this goes to court? This is just so much fuss in a hair net. I don't like his haircut but it is no skin off my nose if he has to walk around like that in public. For goodness sake, how about we concentrate on the real bad stuff like child abuse, family violence, truancy, youth offending...there are so many things that matter and affect society as a whole. This haircut? It's between him and his hairdresser (who I would like the name of so I don't ever accidentally go there).


It is not the hair style per se at the heart of the problem, it is the absolute disdain for rules and regulations that too many teenagers (and parents) dismiss. I see it everywhere, kids in their teens and twenties with total disregard for authority. As long as they are allowed to do what they like they're fine. It is about respect, self-respect and respect of others. Sadly disappearing from society methinks! [Abridged]

Wake up Otago!

Honestly – why would a haircut lead to anarchy? Or in other words, what’s next? Will the students start to listen to this outrageous music - what was it called again? Oh yes, there is this terrible new band: The Beatles!  I have seen crowds of formerly well groomed and promising students losing all control and sliding into anarchy after falling for those outlaws with their long hair.

I cannot believe that we are so far backwards down here. I have lived in several countries and I worked in a number of education systems.I do not want to criticise our education system in itself at all, but nowhere have I encountered a drop back in time like
this when it comes to the dressing and grooming rules. I am glad to read some other critical comments here as well. I want my
children to grow up to be discerning thinkers and focusing on their education. However, instead of modernization and liberation I see tight controls smothering any form of individuality and development of an open mind. And more so: what about gender equality? Girls may have long hair, but this is unacceptable for a boy? At most schools girls are not even allowed to wear trousers. Others regulate young boys to wear shorts, no matter what the outside temperatures are - a rather interesting sight to see parents bundled up in cozy down jackets dropping their bare legged youngsters off on winter mornings. In a modern country like ours these examples should be considered as sexist and non-compliant with constitutional policy. It is unclear to me how schools in New Zealand can be lifted from obeying basic rules of gender equality and are allowed to bend constitutional policy the individual liking of their principles.

Our students receive a great education and are raised towards being responsible and respectful citizens. We need to wake up
though and face the modern world when it comes to dress code and grooming rules. I have not seen any student drifting into anarchy and losing their focus on education at any place in Europe, Scandinavia, or the US because they were allowed to dress and groom like the rest of us. What we all have seen very often though, are phases of very radical forms of sudden liberation and lack of focus when our students start University and are finally let lose. I seriously doubt a late teenager would have the urge to vent like this had he/she been allowed more individuality from early on – I have certainly not observed it anywhere else in the world.

Neither hair nor there

Minnie me complains about "parents and pupils telling the teachers and school how it should be run instead of the other way round."  I'd complain too if it was important.  But honestly, why bother?  Why bother making a big deal out of hairstyles?  OK, so kids like to "express their individuality" and sometimes this results in hair-dos that will embarrass the bejasus out of them in a few years when they look at the photos, but is that worth a bunch of adults getting into a tizzy?  Part of the attraction lies in defiance, outsider-chic.  Remove criticism and those reasons evaporate.  By all means enforce rules about hair that impact on safety, such as fringes that limit a kid's ability to see, and hygiene.  Otherwise forget it - don't waste valuable teaching and learning time on fighting battles about trivia.  Aren't there enough real issues to be dealt with?

Fashion police shoot from the unhip

Another bunch of teachers getting het up over nothing. Have they nothing better to do? Do they not know they would lose this case in court if they are sued? They might also consider bannning visits from Grandma because she has blue hair. You are right Shayne, this is petty, counter productive educationally and it encourages a distain for authority instead of promoting education as what is in your head not on it. Shades of Pink Floyd's 'We Don't Need no Education' song.

Parents and pupils making the rules

Another example of the parents and pupils telling the teachers and school how it should be run instead of the other way round.

Singled out, pt 2


YeahRightDunedin: He probably doesn't, but you would appear to. The 'singled out' claim refers to his belief that others are also breaking the same rules without attracting the attention of the school authorities. If true (and who would know), there's certainly no 'obvious' reason for it. Which should be obvious...
The rules in this case do seem to be a bit vague. What's 'extreme' to one person is every-day-ordinary to another.


Mirror mirror

Seems to me that authoritarian approaches to student coiffure could not be more counterproductive. This young man's hair cut looks - to me - to be perfectly acceptable for a police officer or a member of the military. Why is it an issue? I suspect that those in power at the school want to see little versions of themselves wandering the halls and any deviation from their mirror image must be crushed in to soulless conformity. A win for the future of New Zealand? Sadly, no doubt this young man, his friends, and who knows how many other students feel like they've gotten the rough heel of the jackboot and are not further motivated to pursue their education.

Nice work... 

Singled out

He is being singled out because he is breaking the rules.

Surely you didn't need the obvious pointed out Mr. Bain?

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