School dress code back in spotlight - South Lake Press: News

School dress code back in spotlight

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Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 4:14 pm

The Lake County School Board is again floating the idea of requiring students district-wide to wear school uniforms, an idea that has been rejected several times because of backlash by parents.

As the board reviews its Student Code of Conduct policy, which is updated every year, the dress code could become part of the discussion if a board member brings it up, school board members said.

As a result of the numerous emails board members received in regard to school uniforms, Chairwoman Debbie Stivender asked members at a board meeting Monday if they wanted to ask Superintendent Susan Moxley to form a team to come up with a dress code.

Board members were split on the idea.

If approved, the team would compile data and make a recommendation to the school board on student uniforms.

“As long as board members are willing to follow the data and recommendations the ... committee comes up with, then I support sending it there,” said School Board Member Tod Howard, who is in favor of school uniforms. “If we have board members who are unwilling to listen to the data, I am not inclined to waste committee time on something that is already decided.”

Board Member Rosanne Brandeburg, who previously voted against school uniforms after parents voiced opposition, said there are many other more important issues to discuss.

“We have listened,” she said. “My concern is if we go back to the public again, I think there are going to be people who are going to ask, ‘Don’t you have more important issues such as funding our schools, educating our children and having the best qualified teachers working in our school system?’”

Jim Miller has been pushing for school uniforms since early 2011, when he was a member of the School Board.

Miller handed out a flier to board members with statistics highlighting how the uniforms implemented in Osceola County have reduced discipline referrals by 30 percent, classroom disruptions by 35 percent and gang activity by 75 percent.

The board has tried several times to change the dress code policy, even giving a tentative OK to a stricter policy in 2012, only to reverse itself when parents protested.

Clothing options proposed by the board included plain, solid-colored polo shirts and blouses over solid colored pants, skirts, jumpers, shorts or skorts.

In an email to board members, Montverde Academy Headmaster Kasey Kesselring expressed support for school uniforms.

“I cannot offer you enough encouragement to implement school uniforms at Lake County Public Schools and what it will (do) to initiate positive change in the culture of your school communities in a relatively short time,” he wrote.

Clinton Powell, chair of the South Lake Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, among other parents, also wrote emails in support of school uniforms.

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