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Published: Wednesday, 12/13/2006

Oregon schools say no to uniforms

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Students attending Oregon City Schools will soon have no excuse for not knowing what is acceptable to wear to school, but that's not because they'll be required to wear a uniform.

After months of study and debate, the Oregon school board decided against implementing a uniform dress code.

Instead, the board sided with its uniform committee, which recommended that a stricter and more-enforced dress code was the way the district should be heading.

"We identified a problem with the current dress policy, but nothing is drastically needed with the policy, like uniforms," said board member Jeff Ziviski, chairman of the uniform committee.

The committee, made up of board members, school building principals, teachers, and parents, has been meeting monthly for the past few months to debate the merits of mandating that students wear school uniforms.

Proponents of uniforms claim wearing them would eliminate stress in the morning, be cheaper in the long run, make it easier to spot intruders at the school, curb peer pressure, and alleviate the question over what's acceptable to wear to school.

Those against a policy were worried it would take away a student's individuality and would be more costly at the onset.

Curtice resident Sheri Sheahan, whose three children attend Oregon schools, said she was relieved to hear the board was not going to vote for uniforms.

"Just a small portion [of students] are not abiding by the dress code right now," she said. "I believe our school district cannot afford to adopt a uniform policy with so few violations."

Uniforms have been a hot topic of debate since a parent contacted school board member Cathy Johnson last year about the possibility. That contact led to an unscientific survey administered in November, 2005, to gauge community reaction.

More than 700 surveys were returned in December showing uniforms were backed in every school building in the district except Wynn Elementary.

Uniforms got the most support at Eisenhower Middle School, followed by those at Clay High School.

Another survey, collected recently from roughly half of the district's teachers, found the majority of teachers from two buildings, Fassett and Clay, thought there was a need for a formal uniform at their schools, while teachers at the district's other five school buildings felt the optimal solution would be to enforce the current dress-code policy.

So for the time being, the uniform committee will remain intact, possibly broken up into smaller focus groups, to review the current dress policy, revise it to be more strict, and incorporate today's fashion trends, Mr. Ziviski said.

Instead of listing what is acceptable, the committee plans to come up with a list of what is not acceptable to wear to school, including ripped pants, belly-baring shirts, too-tight clothing, and certain language on T-shirts.

Mr. Ziviski said the committee will also identify the parties in charge of enforcing the dress code and the disciplinary actions for violations.

"It needs to be enforced at the beginning of school - not fifth period," he said.

Board members are hoping the new language will be approved and in place by the 2007-08 school year.



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