The Board of Education voted unanimously on Thursday to have the Policy Committee consider expanding the ’ dress code and uniform policy to require uniforms for students at New London High School.
Secretary Jason Catala, who made the request, said he wants to see students “dress to succeed” and that he felt the policy should have already been in place at the high school. Uniforms are currently required for students in the district’s four elementary schools and .
The rationale given for the policy includes the minimizing disruptions from inappropriate clothing, reducing peer pressures on wearing brand name clothing, and minimizing parental costs for purchasing new school clothing. Students may be temporarily exempt if a parent has financial difficulty and extra time is needed to obtain proper clothing or if certain clothing is required for religious beliefs or health reasons.
Uniforms were required for elementary school students beginning in the 2005-2006 school year and middle school students beginning in the 2007-2008 school year. Students are required to wear approved clothing, and the middle school policy further bans any kind of offensive clothing, including items with foul language or gang symbols.
Uniforms are not required at the high school, but since the 2005-2006 school year a dress code has been in place. This also bans offensive clothing, as well as low-riding pants, midriff-bearing shirts or blouses, and shoes with wheels in the heel. Hooded sweatshirts are allowed, but the student must keep the hood down.
Vice President Elizabeth Garcia Gonzalez said she has seen some violations of the code at the high school and suggested that better enforcement might be necessary. Board member Margaret Curtin said a stronger dress code, requiring more formal clothing, could have the same effect as a uniform.
“Some of the things I see coming out of the high school, it really is embarrassing,” she said.
Board member Barbara Major recalled how she took part in protests against the high school’s dress code in 1970. She said the policy should be reviewed as to its application to the school, but said she would not support a uniform requirement there.