The Oklahoma City School Board voted 5-3 Monday to implement a districtwide uniform policy for students.
The policy will go into effect for the 2013-14 school year. School administrators will set individual site rules, but every school must allow white shirts and khaki pants.
The discussion about whether to implement uniforms was sparked last fall when a kindergartner at Wilson Elementary — a nonuniform school — was told to turn his University of Michigan T-shirt inside out. District policy allowed students at nonuniform schools to wear gear from only Oklahoma universities.
The decision was tough but necessary, said District 6 board member Jay Means, who voted for the uniform policy.
“I don't like taking away a kid's right to have self-expression,” Means said. “But having been on the front lines when people's lives were actually in danger, the safety of our kids is more important than any popularity contest that we might win.”
Board Vice Chairman Phil Horning, who voted against the policy, said uniforms should be implemented by individual schools, which previously was allowed by district policy.
“We're voting on whether we should impose, from the board level, what the families of 43,000 kids should dress their children in every morning when they get up,” Horning said. “I would suggest to you that it's too intrusive.”
District 4 board member Laura Massenat said each school should be able to choose its policy.
“There's nothing stopping any school from having a uniform policy,” said Massenat, who voted against the districtwide policy. “That's to be decided at the school site. It's not for us to decide what is needed in a particular school. I think we're making a big mistake in imposing solutions where there are not problems.”
The vote affects these 17 schools that do not have uniforms:
• Elementary: Bodine, Edgemere, Eugene Field, Green Pastures, Hayes, Hillcrest, Kaiser, Linwood, Pierce, Prairie Queen, Southern Hills, Willow Brook and Wilson.
• High school: Classen School of Advanced Studies, Pathways Middle College, Northwest Classen and Southeast.
In other business
The board received the annual district audit for the fiscal year ending June 30 from Cole & Reed. The district received an unqualified opinion for the 10th year in a row. District revenues were about $455 million, and expenses were about $376 million.
The board unanimously rejected a request for a charter school from Lighthouse of Hope Academy. The school would have served students in the 73114 ZIP code. It was going to be on property owned by Britton Christian Church. The district's attorney Tammy Carter said the planned curriculum was inadequate and inappropriate for a public school.