Thursday, May 7, 2009

Seven Nashville schools to shed uniforms

Most in Metro will relax standards By Jaime Sarrio • THE TENNESSEAN • May 7, 2009 Nearly every Metro school next year will relax the district's "standard school attire" policy to include more clothing options for students, and seven schools are scrapping it altogether. In 2007, the board adopted a detailed uniform policy that outlined dos and don'ts for students, including making sure belts weren't too long. After two years, schools would be given the chance to drop the policy or make changes. This week, school officials announced that all but about 10 schools were granted permission to modify the uniform policy starting next school year. Seven schools will drop the policy completely and revert to the district's original dress code. All requests to opt out were granted, said Ralph Thompson, assistant superintendent of student services. More requests may be considered next year. "Each school was asked to consult staff, students, parents and the community and from that make the determination," he said. "Many schools did feel it made a difference, which was the reason wewanted to leave it up to schools." The policy requires all students to wear solid-colored shirts with collars. Slacks or long shorts or skirts of appropriate length can be worn in khaki, navy or black. Advocates for the policy said it would make schools safer, while opponents complained it created discipline problems out of otherwise good students. Most elementary schools asked that more colors be included on the list of acceptable shirts, Thompson said. Other schools wanted to allow school spirit attire. Seth McCammon, a sophomore at Hume-Fogg Magnet High, which opted to drop the entire policy, said uniforms were not needed because discipline problems at his school are rare. "I hate SSA, and I think that having to dress in a specific way is a waste of time and money," McCammon said. The 15-year-old said he couldn't wait to go back to wearing T-shirts. Metro Schools also is dropping the punitive portion of the uniform policy, which required students to serve one day of in-school suspension after the second violation. After the third offense, a student could be suspended out of school. Now, schools will be able to decide how and if students should be punished for violating the dress code, Thompson said.

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