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Port Orange Observer Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2019 4 weeks ago

The great debate continues: should students be forced to wear uniforms to school?

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The pros and cons of a school dress code versus school uniform policy were a debated topic at the Volusia County School Board meeting Monday, July 22.
by: Tanya Russo Staff Writer

Now that a new school year is around the corner and parents are saving up to buy clothes and supplies for their children, the Volusia County School Board has been in great debate about what is and is not appropriate for students to wear to school.

The end result of the discussion was the current policy remains in place, with Interim Superintendent Tim Egnor in charge of making sure his principals and teachers are consistent with enforcing the Level 1 discipline violation.

“It is very difficult for people to deliver what you want to have happen, if as a group, you can’t agree on what you want to have happen," Egnor said.

Data will be gathered about the degree to which teachers and principals are addressing violations, and presented to the board. This will be used to determine when and how a different policy could be created, possibly by Jan. 1, 2020.

“The policy in place has to be the policy the school year starts, with the expectation it could be enforced to a similar degree as in the past, maybe with a greater emphasis on the dress code aspect of it," Egnor said.

Board members Ida Wright and Jamie Haynes were in support of school uniforms because they have parents who support the concept.

Wright said students need to know how to dress appropriately for job and career interviews. They need to be prepared for success in their future.

“I have been on high school campuses where I have seen kids wear pajamas to school,” Wright said. “I went to the principal who told me, ‘I’d rather have them in school.’  Well, where is he or she gonna get a job interview with pajamas?”

Haynes said that appropriate dress is a responsibility of the parents and the main problem with the dress code policy is enforcement. The Board can pass as many policies as they want, but if what is in place is not enforced, it does not matter.

Board member Linda Cuthbert had the opposite opinion. She said she has always been against school uniforms because she is in favor of everyone having individual choice and creativity. Her one caution was about safety. She was emphatic about elementary and middle school students wearing closed-toed shoes.

Board member Ruben Colon said a change in dress code would not affect the high schools as much because so many changes have all ready been implemented for that level.

He was in favor of eliminating uniforms because he has spoken with assistant principals who told him too much of their time has been spent with uniform code violations. He did, however, vote to support the continuation of this year's policy until a different policy can be created throughout the school year. 

This story was updated at 5:30 p.m. on July 23 to reflect corrections to a quotation made by Board Member, Ida Wright.

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