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Family of child barred from attending school with dreadlocks to appeal court ruling

Attorney-at-law Isat Buchanan, who represents the family, and Dale Virgo, the child's father
 
The attorney representing the family of a child who was barred from attending school with dreadlocks says they will be appealing Friday's court ruling that the school's actions were not unconstitutional.
 
Controversy erupted two years ago following reports that the then five year old child was initially accepted to St. Catherine-based Kensington Primary School but later told that her locks would have to be cut.
 
The child's family filed a claim in 2018 arguing that the school's policy against the hairstyle was in breach of her constitutional rights.
 
However, the constitutional court ruled on Friday that there was no breach.
 
Attorney for the family, Isat Buchanan, said he is hurt about the ruling on the eve on Emancipation Day.
 
"It's a sad day for black people on the eve of Emancipation. As a dreadlocks wearing, a Rastafarian, I can say to you that I'm most hurt for black identity, expression of blackness and I will look forward to the written judgment to see how it is that they came to that decision. And certainly, my instructions from the family now is to appeal whatever judgment comes, and certainly, we fight the good fight," he declared. 
 
Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte has declined to comment on the ruling at this time. However, her office had argued that the school's policy was aimed at the maintenance of an acceptable level of hygiene, as well as the maintenance of discipline and order.
 
It also noted that the child's freedom of expression had not been breached. 
 
It contended that the child's parents subscribed to the Nazarite Vow, but there is nothing which indicates that the child took a conscious vow and deliberate decision to subscribe to this idea. 
 
Mr. Buchanan said the child will now be left to the mercy of the school.
 
"The family is left to ask permission from the school that the child remain and if the school is so minded, in all their grace and power and might to allow the little black girl to keep her dreadlocks and not bring lice and 'junjo' and these things within the precincts of the school. The school has the power, that's basically the judgment," he lamented. 
 
The child's father, Dale Virgo, said he is very disappointed by the ruling.
 
"This was an opportunity by the Jamaican courts to right the wrongs, you know; to speak against systemic racism, which we have been experiencing in the form of hair. A child shouldn't be refused just because of hair. There shouldn't be any form of discrimination," he bemoaned. "But we still have faith and we'll continue to fight because, look at the world stage right now in 2020. Black lives matter and everywhere people are declaring that."
 


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