A school uniform policy may not be necessary for Groveport Madison Schools because officials say incidents of dress code violations, discipline issues and bullying have decreased this school year.
"There have been very few major violations (which includes fights, drugs and weapon possession)," said Richard Playko, dean of students, at the Groveport Madison Board of Education’s Nov. 8 meeting.
Playko said teachers and administrators are also strictly enforcing the dress code.
According to Playko, so far this school year at the high school, there have been 124 dress code incidents out of 1,622 students. He said, out of those incidents (which includes warnings), only 18 were repeat offenders.
Playko said the junior high has had 42 dress code incidents so far this school year with 8 repeat offenders.
The two middle schools have had 69 total dress code incidents with 8 repeaters.
In regards to bullying incidents, Playko said there have been 9 confirmed cases in the school district this year.
Superintendent Bruce Hoover said, in a district of 5,723 students, only a small percentage have been cited for discipline infractions or dress code incidents.
High school principal Aric Thomas stated dress code enforcement has been stepped up. He also said teachers and student council are working to improve the culture and climate at the high school by creating more diverse activities for students to encourage involvement.
"Our goal was to create something for every student," said Thomas. "It’s a wide range of activities so students can feel like they belong. It’s a way to marry discipline with positive reinforcement. The culture and climate at the school has improved tremendously in the past year."
Student council member Amy Castle said some of the new activities include National Honor Society members tutoring fellow students, a gaming club, a spirit club and a debate club.
"I love everything about school," said Castle. "Now more kids are staying after school and participating."
Castle, along with fellow student council members Isaac England and Michael Edwards, told the board the improved school climate and decrease in dress code violations means the proposed institution of a school uniform policy is not needed.
"It (self-improvement) has to come from the inside, not from a school uniform," said Castle.
Added England, "Keep giving us a chance to keep improving."
"I’d hate to see the improved school spirit ruined by school uniforms," said Edwards.
"The board is not your adversary," said board president Charlotte Barker. "We want kids to be proud. We’re trying to help you bring that back."
Hoover said, in light of the improving school culture and climate, "I feel there is no need at this time for the adoption of a school uniform policy."
Hoover noted the final decision on a school uniform policy is up to the board.
"We are very pleased with the changes, but will continue to monitor the climate at the high school and will revisit it February," said Barker. "I agree the change needs to come from the inside not the outside. We have made it clear what the alternative will be if the climate does not change and now, with the positive results we have seen, we must give them time to finish the job."
Last year the school board considered a school uniform policy for grades 6-12, but voted it down with the understanding the board would revisit the issue in February 2013.
School officials had proposed the school uniform policy because they believed it would benefit the schools and students by creating order, instilling a sense of discipline, encouraging pride, and improving academic focus.
Those opposing the school uniform policy – which included a mixture of students, parents and teachers – believed it would infringe on personal rights, would be costly, would not change bad behaviors or stop fights, would be difficult to enforce and would inhibit freedom of expression and individuality.
The proposed school uniform policy would have required students to follow a dress code that included khaki or black pants, shorts, capris or skirts; and a white, black, red or gray three button collared shirt either short or long sleeved.