Some parents upset over uniform idea

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2007

In a public school system that is comprised of over 2,000 students, approximately 125 parents and students attended an open forum Tuesday night at the Luverne High School gym where opinions on possible school uniforms were given.

Schools Superintendent Kathi Wallace thanked everyone for coming, and she invited everyone present to leave their comments on 3 x 5 index cards on the outside tables for the Uniform Dress Code Committee to read.

&#8220We want your comments on this issue,” Wallace said.

Thirteen people signed up to speak, with nine of the speakers being against school uniforms and four speaking for them.

Tana Little, who has children who attend Brantley School, was wearing a Brantley School shirt that had been sold by the school's PTA.

&#8220We'll lose money for the PTA,” Little said. &#8220I'm not going to buy these shirts if my kids can't wear them to school.”

&#8220My child is 17 years oldŠŠ.Do you think he will walk out the door in that uniform? We're not thinking about the dress code that is already in placeŠThe administration needs to enforce the present dress code.”

&#8220I've even seen faculty members who were not dressed appropriately,” Little added.

Theresa Free, who ran in the race for a School Board seat and lost, was also against school uniforms.

&#8220We don't even have a Spanish teacher in our long-distance learning lab,” Free said. &#8220There are more important issues this committee needs to be concerned with.”

Parent Laura Motes of Brantley said that if &#8220this is a safety issue, I've been misinformed because I thought our schools were safe.”

Luverne School parent Lynn Norman agreed with Motes.

&#8220If it's a safety issue, then we need to know what it is,” Norman said. &#8220Don't punish everyone for the actions of just a few; it's not fair.”

Luverne School parent and alumnus Ashley Weaver has two children at the school.

&#8220I see no reason for this,” Weaver said. &#8220I'm not going to have anyone telling me what to wear and what not to wear. If there is violence at this school, it needs to be identified, but let our kids be individuals.”

&#8220If we go to uniforms, my kids will be home-schooled,” Weaver added before leaving the podium.

However, Luverne City Council Member Charlie Johnson said that he supported the idea of school uniforms.

&#8220A uniform is an expression of authority in schools, and we need this,” Johnson said. &#8220I believe that the committee and the Board need to show some strength and pass this policy. It's not popular, but we can't be afraid to take the hits for it. Once it's in place, people will become satisfied with it. You need to give it a chance because I have seen it work in other places.”

Luverne School parent Mary Kelly, who is originally from New York, said that her children had worn uniforms since kindergarten.

&#8220People are afraid of change, especially when you might not understand it,” Kelly said. &#8220We have to remember that many kids get picked on because of the clothes they wear to school.”

&#8220I don't feel like clothes make you - you make the clothes,” she added.

Luverne School Counselor Lucy Summerlin agreed with Council Member Johnson.

&#8220As I walked through the cafeteria today, I could see what Adam and Eve were trying to cover up,” Summerlin said. &#8220I am really surprised to see that so many people do not want uniforms. Our kids will try to wear anything from the stores.”

Dr. Alethea Gammage added that school uniforms looked &#8220very neat” and commented how students in other school systems wearing uniforms made a good impression.

Supt. Wallace closed the open forum and announced that another committee meeting would be held, and those recommendations would be taken to the Board of Education.

&#8220The Board will make the ultimate decision,” Wallace said.