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Court clears way for dreadlocked child to start school

Published:Sunday | August 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer

The Supreme Court last Friday granted an injunction preventing the board of management of the Kensington Primary School in Portmore, St Catherine, from blocking a five-year-old girl from entering the school because of her dreadlocked hairstyle.

The injunction was granted on a motion filed by Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) on July 18 on behalf of the parents of the child, who, last month, were given an ultimatum that their daughter had until August 29 to remove her locks to enter grade one in September in keeping with the school's policy.

The human-rights group challenged the school's position on the basis that enforcement of the rule would violate constitutionally protected human rights of the child and her family and that no other remedy existed to prevent the threat of that violation, given the school's demand.

"We are really heartened by the fact that our daughter can attend school in September without interference. All we want is for her to get the quality education that she deserves and for these discriminatory practices to end," the child's parents told The Gleaner in a joint statement following the order.

Attorneys from the Attorney General's Chambers, appearing on behalf of the Government of Jamaica, consented to the order.

"This is only the beginning of the process, and while there is much more to be done in court, we are pleased by the first order from the court to allow this child - who has done nothing wrong - to attend classes and obtain the education that she has a constitutionally protected human right to. Without this order, she could have faced the prospect of being denied an education," JFJ said in a press statement.

The court is scheduled to hear the case in January 2019. The lawsuit seeks multiple constitutional declarations, orders, and damages.