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Published: Thursday, 7/26/2001

Lima board cans uniform requirement at school

LIMA, Ohio - Pupils attending South Middle School this fall won't have to wear uniforms, but the discussion over how students dress for class will continue.

The board of education, acting on requests of parents, voted Tuesday night to end South's six-year-old policy that required uniforms.

Superintendent John McEwan said yesterday the decision was made after parents complained that South pupils were teased because the school was the only one in the district to insist on uniforms.

“The opposition was only to the fact that [South] was the only building,” Mr. McEwan said. “They [parents] see many positives to the uniforms.”

As a result of the board meeting, Mr. McEwan plans to convene a district-wide committee of parents and staff members to consider whether all Lima public students should wear uniforms. The determination of which grades would be affected will be made by the committee, he said.

“It will be no holds barred,” he said.

The program at South began six years ago as a pilot. But a group of parents recently approached the administration about the perceptions that their pupils were discriminated against by other students because of the uniforms.

Parent Vanessa Watson told the board Tuesday that parents would approve uniforms as a policy, but only if everyone wore them.

Board member Rick Hire, the only board member who served when the South policy was initiated, said he hopes all students will be required to wear uniforms.

Mr. McEwan had 31 years of administrative and teaching experience in Michigan before taking charge of the Lima district a year ago.

None of his previous school systems required uniforms, he said.

In addition to having the uniform policy reviewed, Mr. McEwan intends to re-examine the district's dress code, which he says is vague.

He has gathered dress code policies from other districts in an attempt to devise a workable policy for Lima, a district with about 5,500 students.

Any decisions regarding uniforms and dress codes will be made with the recommendation of parents and staff to ensure broad community support, he said.

He plans to convene a parents group once classes begin and reach a decision by the end of October.

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