Uniforms for schools next year?

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With nationally-recognized elementary schools and cutting edge technology in all buildings, the Switzerland County School Corporation has been on the cutting edge of education trends.

Now, the school corporation may be readying itself to lead the way on another trend – school uniforms.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Switzerland County School Board, superintendent Tracy Caddell asked for the approval of the board to create a committee to investigate the possibility of having school uniforms in all buildings beginning with the 2007-2008 school year.

He stressed that no decision has been made on uniforms, but that the committee would investigate uniforms and how other school corporations have implemented them.

The superintendent said that he would like to see a committee of approximately 10 people: two school board members; two members of the teaching staff; two students; two parents; and two administrators.

School board members Bill Roberts and Laurice See volunteered to serve on the committee as board representatives.

Anyone interested in being considered for the committee should contact the building that their child attends; or the superintendent’s office.

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The theme of student clothing came up again during the public comments portion of Monday’s meeting, with parents and students questioning the new rules that have been put in place since the incidents at the high school last month.

Melissa Smith, whose daughter was sent home from the high school to change because her outfit was “inappropriate”; was at the meeting with her daughter – who was wearing the same outfit that she was sent home for.

“I would like to know what the school considers to be inappropriate about her outfit,” Melissa Smith asked. “She’s a teenager. She’s going to school to get an education. You don’t single kids out like this. If there’s something inappropriate about her outfit, then tell her what it is. Don’t just send her home with no explanation.”

Melissa Smith said that she didn’t necessarily like the style of clothing her daughter wears, but credited her with having the self-esteem to wear what she wants regardless of what others think.

“If we spent half as much time worrying about what their hair color is or what their dress is than we do, then they’d get a lot more education,” Melissa Smith said.

Jill Wilson, whose son Kyle was also sent home for having a distracting hair color, asked the board what the big deal was over the color of a student’s hair.

She noted that her son has a goal of getting his diploma and then going on to the Marine Corps, and see feels like that drive needs to be reinforced, not derailed.

“Soon, when he gets to the Marines, he won’t have any hair,” Jill Wilson said. “What’s the big deal if his hair is blue? What does his hair color have to do with what went on? He’s not using his hair as a weapon.”

Jill Wilson said that there is some misunderstandings because her son was told that he hasn’t been expelled, but that he can’t return to school until he dyes his hair back to a normal color.

“He just wants to graduate,” she said. “He came back to graduate, why not let him achieve that goal? That’s just him being who he is.”