On Tuesday June 4th’s Osceola School District’s Board meeting Superintendent Dr. Debra Pace brought forward an item to be discussed with the Board, that being the current school uniform policy, or school dress code, that the district has had in place since 2008 when Dr. Grego was the Superintendent. At the time, one of the motivating forces was a state grant that schools would receive if they adhered to an acceptable school uniform policy, however, as Board Member from District 5 Ricky Booth explained during the meeting, that funding from the state is no longer in place.
Dr. Pace explained to the board members, “As I have walked campuses over the last couple of years it has become more concerning about the level of consistency in terms of its enforcement and how we have been carrying that out. This becomes an item of concern really when it comes down to school safety and security, particularly as it comes to outer garments, things like hoodies and sweatshirts which are very very popular items with the students, which sometimes then allows students to not be identified as students on our campus.“
For the current uniform policy to change, the district leadership would have to go through an actual policy making cycle. Dr. Pace shared that she hoped that they would be able to communicate with school administrators as well as students and parents this summer what the school board’s expectations are going to be in the way of school uniform policy, so they clearly understand before the start of the fall semester and could best communicate the policy.
Dr. Pace noted that there were two uniform policy issues that were especially challenging to enforce, that being the tucking in of shirts and the requirement for students to wear a belt. Dr. Pace explained further that with not allowing the students to have undergarments showing, there would be no further need to require belts to be worn by the students.
The wearing of hoodies is also a challenge to enforce, or to understand it seems, and will take more processing by the board in order to develop an enforceable and comprehendible policy. It is the current understanding that hoodies are to be removed, unzipped or left open upon arriving to school, and that only hoodies with zippers in the front are permitted, but this is inconsistent currently across the district.
This is the current School District of Osceola County’s Uniform Policy for all elementary, middle, and high school students that can be found on the district website at OsceolaSchools.org
• Navy blue, black or khaki pants, walking shorts, slacks, skirt, skorts, jumper, or similar clothing made of twill, corduroy, or blue denim fabric. (A small logo is acceptable)
• White or navy blue shirts with collars such as a polo, oxford, or dress shirt (A small logo is acceptable)
• Schools have the option of adding one or two shirt colors to reflect their school colors, and schools could permit students to wear school-sponsored T-shirts on Fridays or school spirit days that the school principal designates.
Other Things To Remember . . .
• The size of shirts and pants must be appropriate to the student’s body size and not oversized or undersized.
• Shirts must be tucked into the waistband of the pants or skirt. Exceptions will be allowed for students in grades K and 1 and in individual cases at the principal’s discretion.
• Pants or shorts with belt loops must be worn with a belt so that the waistband is worn at the waist and not below. Exceptions will be allowed for students in Grades K and 1 and in individual cases at the principal’s discretion.
• The hem of the girls’ skirts or dresses must be no shorter than mid-thigh.
• Elementary and middle school students’ footwear must be closed toe and heel athletic shoes. High school students may also wear sandals provided they don’t interfere with the safety and welfare of the student and the school’s administration allows such. Platforms and shoes with wheels may not be worn.
• Hats, headgear, or any head covering will not be permitted except when approved by the Principal.
• Clothing can be purchased from any retailer or vendor.
• School administrators have final authority to decide if clothing complies with the rules.
Dr. Pace shared that it was her hope that the district would have a clear and consistent expectation that the School Board and administrators could stand and agree on for safety and security so that students would be easily identifiable on campuses across the district.
School board members agreed to allow the current dress code committee, led by Deputy Superintendent of Human Services Thomas Phelps, to meet over the summer with administrators, teachers, parents and students to discuss the potential minor changes that were suggested by Dr. Pace.