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Kate Hawkesby: Sorry James Hunt, but you need to cut your hair

Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Monday, 5 August 2019, 9:55AM
James Hunt has hired lawyers to take up his case. (Photo / NZ Herald)

I see we have the old hair debate back in the news, with an Auckland Grammar boy now wanting to take the school to court over its hair policy.

The difficulty here is that the boy knew the school rules on hair before he started, and he cut it in January in order to meet them and get into the school.

But that was the first and last time he had a haircut and he's now grown it to shoulder length. Which is in direct breach of the school rules, which state hair has to be above the collar.

Having had two boys attend this school I am familiar with the rules. No, my boys didn't like it, yes they wanted to grow their hair and hated having to constantly cut it, but as I told them at the time, those are the rules.

But it seems if you don't want to follow rules, or feel you should be excluded from them, you can just hire a lawyer. I personally found it cheaper and less stressful just to get it cut.

As soon as my oldest son finished school and left, he just grew his hair again. It was something he looked forward to doing, along with not having to wear a uniform and Roman sandals everyday.

Because most kids understand that schools have rules, that some of them you may not like, but that it's not forever.

All schools have rules, there is nothing special here about Auckland Grammar. There are rules because most high schools are large institutions managing large numbers of kids - and if they didn't have rules it'd be chaos.

A school is entitled to enforce a presentation standard as part of its uniform policy, the same way many other schools ban jewellery, nail polish, tattoos or particular items of clothing.

Yes, hair is something that is "growing naturally" as his mother points out, but so are fingernails and it doesn't change the fact the rule is the rule, and they knew it before they started.

Not only that, they abided by it at first. They signed and agreed to the conditions of enrolment and attendance, and now they're breaching that: why? Because they've changed their mind?

The difficulty here from a legal point of view is how do individual students get to pick and choose which rules apply to them? Surely a dangerous precedent is set if we go down that track and open that particular can of worms.

Also, how do you conform to a rule in order to get into a school, then knowingly flout it once inside? What message is that sending?

It's hard enough for schools these days to manage teenagers with their many and varied issues, senses of entitlement and expectations - without having to juggle lawsuits over hair length.

Surely it's an unnecessary distraction and a drain on resources, when a school whose job it is to teach and coach for exams, manage sport and other subjects, is instead being dragged into a legal sideshow over hair.


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