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Oklahoma City School Board to consider uniform policy

The Oklahoma City School Board is expected to vote in the coming weeks on whether to change the district dress code after public outcry arose when a kindergartner was asked to turn his Michigan shirt inside out. A task force on the issue recommends all schools use a single uniform policy.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: November 29, 2012

A task force of teachers, parents and administrators has recommended that the state's largest school district require its students to wear uniforms.

The Oklahoma City School Board will spend the coming weeks gathering public feedback about the idea before they are expected to vote in February.

“It's hard to make a decision that affects 40,000 students,” said Kathleen Kennedy, a district spokeswoman and a member of the task force. “Not everyone's going to like the decisions you make every time. They're just not. That's true with any decision you make about anything. But what our committee was tasked with was making the best decision for kids.”

The task force was formed earlier this fall after a public uproar about a kindergartner. A 5-year-old boy at Wilson Elementary was asked to turn his University of Michigan T-shirt inside out.

The boy violated a policy that banned college and professional sports team clothing. Only Oklahoma college apparel was allowed at the 17 district schools that don't require uniforms.

Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Karl Springer temporarily lifted the ban on in September while the task force reviewed the dress code.

The district dress code was last updated in 2005 in cooperation with the Oklahoma City Police Department Gang Task Force. The update was done as a response to national concerns about gangs using clothing from sports teams as membership identification.

The task force was a mix of administrators, teachers, principals, police officers and one student. They voted 15-4 to recommend to the school board to implement a districtwide uniform policy, Kennedy said.

The committee reviewed case law about dress codes and uniform policies, Kennedy said. The group also studied dress codes from similar cities across the country, including Tulsa, Denver and Dallas. Tulsa Public Schools students wear uniforms.

In Oklahoma City, a school can require students to wear uniforms by a vote of the parents, Kennedy said.

If the uniform policy went into effect, that autonomy would remain in some form. Each school would have its own uniform policy.

But the district would have at least one universal uniform accepted at all schools, Kennedy said.

“We have a lot of students who move from school to school to school in the district,” she said. “One of our recommendations will be to have a consistent top and consistent bottom that you can wear at any school in the district.”

If you're passionate about this issue and want to have your opinion featured on NewsOK, send an email to Carrie Coppernoll at ccoppernoll@opubco.com.

We'll be hosting a Google+ Hangout in the next few weeks on NewsOK.com/Live and want to feature parents, teachers and students. More details to come.

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How to voice your opinion

The Oklahoma City School Board is expected to collect public comment about whether to require uniforms throughout the district at its next three meetings: Dec. 10, Jan. 7 and Jan. 22. All the meetings begin at 5:30 p.m. at the district administration building, 900 N Klein.

For those who are unable to attend board meetings, comments on the proposed policy can be left with the principal of any district school, spokeswoman Kathleen Kennedy said.

Soon, the public will also be able to leave comments on the district website, okcps.org, she said.

After all the feedback is collected and analyzed, the board will likely vote on the uniform issue in February, Kennedy said.

We have a lot of students who move from school to school to school in the district. One of our recommendations will be to have a consistent top and consistent bottom that you can wear at any school in the district.”

Kathleen

Kennedy,
Oklahoma City Schools spokeswoman

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