Lu­can gets to go to the ball af­ter all

Taranaki Daily News - - News -

There have been a lot of tears at the Bat­ti­son house­hold in the past five weeks. But a phone call on Satur­day af­ter­noon to say 16-yearold Lu­can could at­tend his first school ball was the be­gin­ning of a new chap­ter af­ter a highly pub­li­cised High Court bat­tle.

The Hast­ings stu­dent won the war over keep­ing his long locks, but it was the U-turn on a de­ci­sion to ban him from the St John’s Col­lege ball that was the ic­ing on the cake.

‘‘It would have been dis­heart­en­ing if I couldn’t go, es­pe­cially be­cause I can see the venue from my bed­room win­dow,’’ he said yes­ter­day.

Lu­can re­turned to school last week af­ter Jus­tice David Collins, dur­ing Mon­day’s hear­ing, asked the school to take him back pend­ing his de­ci­sion and with­out in­terim pun­ish­ment.

How­ever, Lu­can said he was told on his re­turn that it was for ‘‘ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses only’’ and that was when he re­alised he wasn’t wel­come at rugby train­ing or the school ball.

Lu­can has missed five weeks of school af­ter be­ing sus­pended on May 22 af­ter ig­nor­ing re­quests to cut his hair. He of­fered to tie it back in a bun but this was un­ac­cept­able to the school.

Catch­ing up on missed class time would be a strug­gle, but his teach­ers were sup­port­ive and pre­pared to help him get up to speed.

The le­gal bat­tle also cost a hefty amount. Lu­can’s dad, Troy Bat­ti­son, said he would have to re­con­sider plans to cut down his hours at work.

Lu­can said his ini­tial re­cep­tion at the ball was ‘‘a bit hyped up’’.

‘‘Things calmed down though and ev­ery­one just treated me the same and it was cool to see my rugby mates.’’

The hard­est thing to deal with through­out the or­deal had been the me­dia at­ten­tion, Lu­can said.

‘‘Just the way they fol­lowed my whole life. It just all went too far. It’s fair enough that people have their own opin­ions, but the ma­jor­ity don’t know the full story and never will,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t think I’ve done any­thing huge. I’ve just stood up for what I be­lieve in.’’

Lu­can says he has no in­ten­tions of be­com­ing a lawyer or hu­man rights ac­tivist. ‘‘ I’ve learnt a lot about how people judge you and how prej­u­diced they are and crit­i­cal.’’ Bat­ti­son, 41, said he would have been the first par­ent to de­fend the school and in­sist the boy in­volved get a hair­cut, if he hadn’t been the par­ent in ques­tion.

‘‘The first thing that would have come to mind is kids are get­ting away with ev­ery­thing these days, bring back the cane and dis­ci­pline them. I un­der­stand that opin­ion. But there was more than met the eye in this case.’’

Fresh start: Troy Bat­ti­son and his son, Lu­can, are look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to nor­mal­ity.

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