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

If approved by the board, the uniform policy would go into effect for the 2013-14 school year.

But not everyone on the task force supports the idea of a uniform policy.

Huyen Nguyen, a junior at Northwest Classen High School, was the only student on the committee. She voted against the recommendation.

Nguyen's school doesn't require uniforms but adheres to the district dress code, which she said is necessary.

“Without it, a lot of things would get out of control,” she said.

She said uniforms are fine for younger students, but most high school students know how to dress within the rules. Those who don't need to practice when they're in a school setting — not when they could lose a job because of it.

And in a structured environment like a school, clothing is one of the ways students find room to be unique, said Nguyen, wearing a trendy fall sweater and black leggings. Uniforms would curtail that creativity.

“It's hard to express yourself,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen's principal, Brad Herzer, has worked at schools with and without uniforms.

Herzer was also on the task force, and he voted against the uniform recommendation. At Northwest Classen, he said the dress code works. The students are well-behaved and work hard. Requiring uniforms won't change that, he said.

“I just don't think it's necessary,” he said. “ ... The stuff they wear is in dress code. We don't have issues.”

But he said he sees the pros and cons of the issue.

Uniforms could improve school safety by helping adults distinguish between students and nonstudents, Herzer said.

The school is secure during the day, but nonstudents sometimes come into the parking lot after school. For example, a former student tried to start a fight with current students one afternoon this fall.

But for day-to-day discipline problems, he said he doesn't draw the line between uniform and nonuniform schools.

“I don't see a lot of difference,” he said. “I don't know that it improves discipline.”

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.


GET INVOLVED

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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