Whitehall board revisits school uniform issue

The Whitehall school board hung up the issue of school uniforms earlier this year, but the proposal was brought out of the closet at their Dec. 13 meeting.

"My mind is made up.  I believe in uniforms," stated board member and retired teacher and coach Mike Capoziello.

He has visited several parochial schools, and has spoken with parents, whom he said like uniforms for their children.  "They know it’s expected and enforced."

Board member Blythe Wood said that people stop her in the grocery store to express their opinions and several parents she has spoken with do not like the idea of uniforms.  

She pointed out that she’s going to listen to what they say, since they were responsible for voting her to her board seat.  She stressed that she is more concerned about educating students than the issue of uniforms.

"I don’t care what people are saying," Capoziello responded. "They put me here to make a decision, and I’m going to support it."

The biggest concern among the board is enforcement, as well as the district spending around $50,000 to provide vouchers for children who can’t afford to purchase the clothing.  

Superintendent Judyth Dobbert-Meloy and high school Principal Dondra Maney, offered that the stricter dress code enforced this year at the high school and middle schools is working.   Both agreed that there will be those who will resister following the rules, and they will be dealt with.  

It was also suggested that some of the discipline should be meted out by the teachers, and if a student’s grades begin  suffering by losing class time for infringements, most will begin complying.  

There will always be those that don’t care if it affects their grades, but that will be a minority, board members added.

Board President Walter Armes pointed out that uniforms are also a security issue.

"When everyone dresses alike you have a safer building," Armes said.  "Anyone who comes in off the street will be singled out and noticed.  Gone!  We get concerned about the money, but we have flexibility, and we won’t know what’s going to happen until it’s in place."

By wearing uniforms, students can’t display gang colors, the superintendent noted, acknowleding that they will still find other ways to identify themselves.

Dobbert-Meloy has spoken to Reynoldsburg school officials about the uniform code they put in place this year, and they are pleased with how it’s going.  

The school uniform discussion is excpected to continue at least one more month, with a decision expected in January or February.  

Dobbert-Meloy will bring a resolution to the board at the January meeting.  The deadline for passage of the resolution is set for February.

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