MILFORD – The Caroline County School Board is moving ahead to study whether to require students to wear uniforms.
The board voted unanimously to create a committee to study the issue during its regular meeting Monday evening this week. The panel, to be headed by Superintendent Greg Killough, will be comprised of two parents, two teachers, a principal from each of the school division’s six schools, the director of special education, two School Board members, and business leaders.
Bowling Green Mayor David Storke and a group of local business owners asked the School Board at its regular meeting in March to consider requiring uniforms for all students to improve the image of Caroline County schools.
During this week’s meeting, School Board member Tinka Harris took a potshot at some students – and even teachers – for their attire.
“When teachers look like students, that’s not professional,” said Harris. She also criticized girls for wearing tops that are too revealing, saying boys need “to keep their minds on books instead of cleavage.”
While parents may send their daughters off to school in appropriate clothes, some girls change into different, less appropriate outfits while on the school bus, according to Harris, a former school bus driver.
The study panel will collect public input on the uniform issue and will make recommendations to the School Board, said Killough. The committee will recommend a time line for implementing any policy it may suggest.
“If you take six months to study this, that won’t be enough time to implement it in September,” said School Board Mack Wright Jr. He suggested the school division could more immediately improve the image of Caroline schools with a dress code that prohibits T-shirts. “Have all students wear collar shirts,” said Wright. “That is a start.”
Like Harris, Wright also suggested the professional staff needs to “dress better.”
Board member George Spaulding expressed concern that a committee might not be the most effective way to explore a uniform policy. “Have an open meeting and invite everybody in the county,” he said.
The State Board of Education recommends the use of a uniform committee and consultation with an attorney, said Killough, adding that the committee could meet as early as April.
“I’m for the uniforms,” Harris said. If the school division implements uniforms, perhaps students could be allowed to wear various colors of socks, she noted.
“I think uniforms are a good idea,” Wright said later, “but we can’t get it done this year. As a parent of teens, I know the expense involved. It would be more acceptable to do uniforms at the elementary school level first. Most people who support uniforms don’t have children in school,” he added.
Storke, who owns Storke Funeral Home in Bowling Green, was joined at the March School Board meeting by: Gary Watts of GH Watts Construction, Evan Stout of Evans Heating and Air, Mike Manns of Pitts and Manns Realty, Will Gravatt of G&G Ace Hardware, Allen Brown of Caroline Cleaners, and Jared Beasley of Beasley Harvesting.
The U.S. Department of Education conducted a study and determined that uniforms reduce gang activity because gangs may not wear their colors, Storke told the School Board in March. Less violence occurs in such schools, and students are better focused on their studies. Uniforms also give students a “sense of pride and a sense of discipline,” said Storke. The uniforms could be as simple as khaki pants or a skirt and a shirt or blouse of a certain color, he suggested. “For parents, this would be less money.”
The current school division dress code prohibits: bandanas, halter tops and midriffs; chains; spikes; pointed or sharp items that could be considered dangerous; and clothing that endorses drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or violence or is offensive to others. The code also says shorts and skirts must meet the fingertip rule. Tops must be one inch thick and have no spaghetti straps. Leggings cannot be worn as pants and must be worn with a skirt or shirt that comes to the fingertips. Hats and gloves must be removed after entering a building.