Groveport Madison to explore school uniforms

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Groveport Madison students could be sporting a new look sometime in the future.

At the May 14 Groveport Madison Board of Education meeting, the board heard a presentation from Junior High Principal Lea Ann Yoakum and High School Assistant Principal Aric Thomas about considering the possibilities of instituting a school uniform policy for students in grades 6-12 at Groveport Madison.

Superintendent Scott McKenzie stressed that the district is merely exploring the idea right now.

"We’re not talking about implementing any changes in the dress code for next year," said McKenzie. "We’re just considering a long range study to look into the potential of student uniforms and to review the pros and cons."

Thomas said school uniforms have the potential to decrease violence, eliminate the presence of gang colors, and improve academics in schools. He said the uniforms could also enhance security.

"With school uniforms you can recognize right away if someone coming into the school is a student or not," said Thomas.

Thomas said, while uniforms are not a "cure all," they are one step in improving safety.

He said the uniforms could be a mix of different shirts and pants in specified colors. Additionally, he said the district could look into developing a system to help students with financial burdens obtain the uniforms.

Yoakum said safety is a compelling reason for uniforms, noting that the baggy clothes some students wear can conceal weapons among other things. She added uniforms reduce discipline problems thereby improving student performance and behavior.

Yoakum and Thomas asked the board for permission to survey the district’s parents to see what they want or expect regarding school uniforms.

"We want to solicit the parents for their input on school uniforms and come back to the board in November with our findings," said Yoakum.

"I don’t want to see us approach this as a scare tactic or as a cure all," said board member John Kershner, telling Yoakum and Thomas to focus on the positive when approaching parents on the matter.

Board President Dr. Naomi Sealey suggested the district also consider holding public forums on the issue.

The board gave Yoakum and Thomas the okay to begin surveying parents about instituting a possible school uniform policy.

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