Stevian Simmonds reports

Over 20-thousand people have signed an online petition, demanding that Prime Minister Andrew Holness overturn a ruling of the Supreme Court concerning a case involving a student of Kensington Primary School. 

Under Jamaican law, the Prime Minister has no power to overturn a ruling of the Court.

The petition also alleges that the Supreme Court in Jamaica has banned the wearing of locks in schools.

However, the nature of the ruling is not immediately clear, as the written judgement is not yet available.

On Friday, the Court indicated that the child’s father, has no standing in the case, and that the child’s constitutional rights were not breached.

Reasons for the findings are to be given at a later date.

Nationwide News has reviewed the Court file with submissions and notes of persons in court. 

The case ran from September 23 to 26 last year and was heard by judges Evan Brown, Justice Bertram Linton, and Justice Nicole Simmons.  

Both parents, Dale and Sherine Virgo are the claimants in the matter and
are represented by attorneys Isat Buchanan and Mikeal Williams. 

According to court documents Mr Virgo’s claim was that he had a right to determine how his family members expressed themselves including how they groom their hair and that the school was obligated to accept that. 

But the court ruled that he had no standing because he was not personally affected by the school’s policy.

His wife’s claim—that her child’s right to education, humane treatment and equality, were breached. 

But no evidence was presented to the court to prove those rights were breached. 

There was no evidence that the school tried to bar the child because of her
hairstyle, nor was there evidence that harm would have come to the child. 

According to the court documents, the school’s policy states that locks,
beads and braids were prohibited. 

But there was no concrete distinction for the child’s hairstyle, as it was
described as sister locks by some parties and just a form of expression’ by
her parents. 

The court decided that the child’s right to education was not breached because she could have been enrolled at another school whose policy would allow that hairstyle. 

The court heard evidence that the school allows children who are professed Rastafarians to wear dread locks to school if they notify the school. 

The attorneys claimed that the family had taken a ‘Nazarene vow’ but no evidence was provided to support this.

But the court had to contend with the question of how far a school should go in facilitating personal expressions of individual students based on their rules on attire.

The court also found that the claimants wanted a ruling that would cover similar cases where children wanted the right to attire themselves in personal styles based on preferences. 

Nationwide News understand that the written judgement is to be made available this week. 

In the meantime, the child’s parents are also vowing to take the matter to the Privy Council. 

In an online statement, the child’s parents, Dale and Sherine Virgo say their daughter was denied her right to an education due to her form of expression wearing dreadlocks. 

They are vowing to continue what they say is a fight against social injustice.

And are pleading with persons to assist by contributing to their legal fees. 

Threat Against Supreme Court Judges

In the meantime…pictures of the judges involved in the case, are being circulated on social media with some persons criticizing and even threatening to harm them.

On Facebook, one user posted: ‘these are the three criminals fronting as judges and must be beaten to smithereens for what the user says is crime against the Rastafarian community’.

When Nationwide News contacted the Jamaica Constabulary’s Corporate Communications Unit, CCU, Divisional Head Senior Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay said they had not received any reports of violent threats.

She however vowed to explore the issue today.