Parents Forum Adds Fuel To School Uniform Debate - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/25/04

Parents Forum Adds Fuel To School Uniform Debate

A new mandatory school uniform policy is not sitting well with some parents with students in the Hancock County School District. The policy is set to take effect next year but some parents say it's too strict and leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

A meeting will be held Thursday night (2/26) by parents looking for some answers.

Members of the Hancock County School Board voted for uniforms to eliminate skimpy or racy clothing and cut the pressure on students to wear the latest designer styles.

"It puts everyone on an even playing field when it comes to class and status," School Board President Peggy Ladner said.

A survey by the board four years ago found 74 percent of the parents supported school uniforms.

"I know that this was constituent driven, that most of our continents want this," Ladner said.

But there are also many parents who oppose the idea.

"We've just got a whole lot of bigger issues then school uniforms and the problems of a few," parent Dan Tribble said.

Opponents say many families cannot afford uniforms and they say the policy is just too strict.

"For example, there's no optional out clause in this policy where children with character or religious difference will be allowed to wear what their religion would ask them to. We have one child who has to have her head covered. Under the new policy, she will not be allowed to wear her religious clothes," parent Lydia Jelinski said.

The parents organized a forum to get answers to their concerns, however a majority of the school board members won't be attending that forum. State law won't permit it.

"If a quorum, or in our case three members of the board, meets or gets together we have to advertise it as a meeting. This is not our forum. This is a forum being conducted by a small group of parents," Peggy Ladner said.

"You have to live in a vacuum in this community to not know that this is a hot issue with parents in the community. I feel if they can't come to this forum, then they should hold a special school board meeting to address this subject. Give us an opportunity to voice our opinions, pro or con," parent Rhonda Yanez said.

On the issue of affordability, school board leaders say charitable organizations will be asked to help those students.

The parents forum is scheduled for Thursday night at 7 o'clock at the Hancock Middle School Cafeteria.

by Al Showers

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