Students who repeatedly break uniform rules should be punished, say principals after news that St John's College in Hastings is being taken to the High Court by the parents of a 16-year-old boy suspended because his hair was too long.
The state-integrated Catholic boys' school suspended Lucan Battison for being in breach of a bylaw requiring hair to be "off the collar and out of the eyes".
Fellow Hawke's Bay state-integrated school Lindisfarne College ensures that students and parents sign a contract agreeing to the rules and culture of the school when they enrol. Off the collar and out of the eyes is the hair policy it also uses.
"We have checks and we have consequences if the boys don't have a haircut," rector Ken MacLeod said.
Inspections of the uniform were done regularly and, in the extreme case where a student refused to fix the problem, the school would send him to get a haircut, MacLeod said. Detention and an hour's run with MacLeod on a Friday afternoon were other ways students were punished if they did not abide by the rules.
"The line St John's is holding is one you would find the vast majority of boys' schools and state-integrated schools would have. You would find the majority of parents at those schools would expect it as well," he said.
Onslow College, which does not have a uniform, still had standards and expectations, principal Peter Leggat said.
"We expect there to be nothing offensive on clothing and students be appropriately covered. The students show a great deal of social maturity around this."
Secondary Schools Principals Association president Tom Parsons said that, in the case of St John's College, it was the parents depriving Battison of an education, not the school.
"There's a lot of free choice for parents. If they choose to enrol their child at a school that has a policy about short hair, they can't decide that it shouldn't apply to them once they've enrolled."