Schools approve uniform plan

Published 7:54 am Tuesday, June 19, 2007

By Staff
Allows jackets, limits labels
News Editor
The Beaufort County Board of Education adopted a modified uniform policy Monday night, allowing flexibility in some areas, but imposing size limits on labels and nixing flip-flops for younger students.
The policy allows students to wear jackets inside classrooms, sanctions collared shirts in any color, and allows labels no larger than a folded $1 bill. It prohibits “sandals without straps” on children in prekindergarten through fifth grades. The revamped policy will take effect next school year.
Some of those changes —related to jackets and shirt colors — were approved during the board’s May meeting, when members revisited the policy that has been in effect countywide since August 2006. Other portions — labels 3 inches by 3 inches — are based on amendments made Monday. The policy was not changed with regard to pants, because it doesn’t prohibit the “durable fabric” board members wanted. Denim is still not allowed.
The policy, which is actually “a dress code with restrictions to colors and fabrics,” according to school board member Cindy Winstead, has caused strong reactions from parents — both support and opposition. It led to the filings of two of the newest school board members — Winstead and Teressa Banks.
Parents Ginger and Dal Newbold said Winstead shouldn’t have been allowed to lead the committee that looked at the effectiveness of the policy, because she didn’t support it in the first place.
Winstead said she didn’t ask to be chairwoman of the committee and “I wish to God I hadn’t been.”
School board member William Warren made a motion to rescind the OK of shirts in any color, which was supported by White. Warren said “scads and scads” of people had called him with concerns about allowing shirts in any color. School board member E.C. Peed voted with Warren and White, but the majority of the nine-member board did not. White, Warren and Peed ultimately voted against the policy as a whole.
Jackets must not “hang past the straddle of the pants,” Winstead said, based on the approved policy. If embroidery is on a shirt, it has to be “in the same color family” as the shirt that bears it, based on the latest policy.
In reviewing the policy a school-board-appointed committee gathered data from surveys of parents and teachers, according to Winstead. The surveys to parents were sent home in students’ backpacks, the typical method of delivery for school-system notices, she said.
Parent Buffy Johnson called for “an accurate accounting” of the survey data, and said school board members shouldn’t make decisions “based on a personal agenda.”
Winstead said everyone has had “ample opportunity” for input on the dress code.
The dress-code policy had four goals— to decrease discipline problems, “to even out the playing field” in terms of social status, to increase students’ safety and to eliminate inconsistencies in old dress-code plans, Winstead said during last month’s presentation.
But White said he had “serious questions” about that assertion.
The board approved the policy without a second reading, which goes against its usual proceedings of multiple readings before a policy is adopted.
That decision was made because the board isn’t scheduled to meet again until July 30. Superintendent Jeff Moss suggested to forego the usual rules.