Parents decry school uniforms

Published 9:40 am Thursday, August 30, 2012

WINTON – Several parents of Hertford County Public School students voiced their displeasure about school uniforms restrictions Monday.

During the regular meeting of the Hertford County Board of Education, half a dozen parents discussed the need for uniforms and the enforcement of the district’s uniform policy.

Sonya Chamblee, a parent of three children,  said she came to speak about a situation at Hertford County High School.

Chamblee said she was aware of the uniform policy and the need to comply with the rules.

“What I understand happened today (Monday, the first day of the new school year) was there was some non-compliance with the uniforms students had today,” she said. “It seemed to be quite a number of students; I believe close to 100.”

She said if the board was going to strictly enforce the policy for uniforms, it would help to give the parents some time to get their children into compliance.

“I know we should have been in compliance; I believe this (policy) has been in effect for six years,” she said. “I have three children and I certainly want them to be in compliance.”

Chamblee said she thought it would be good to allow the parents and students at least a couple of weeks to get into compliance with uniforms.

“Just give us a little bit of time because I see that as being one of the biggest issues of the day,” she said.

She said the schools went into enforcement mode on day one and she thought it would be good to give parents the opportunity to have a week or 10 days to get compliant.

Lashawn Taylor said her daughter was taken out of class because the shirt she wore to school had a logo on it. She said the logo was covered by a pin, but her daughter was still removed from class.

She said there were no uniform shirts available in the area so she sent her daughter to school with the shirt. She also said that shirt was able to be worn last year.

“There are no more uniform shirts nowhere,” Taylor said. “She was able to wear it last year. I told her to wear it the first day until I could get her one. They sent her home with the same shirt she was able to wear last year.”

She said the teachers seemed to be more concerned about what the children were wearing than teaching them.

Another parent said her child was taken out of school while wearing appropriate clothing. She said he was taken out of class for his shoes, but that they were in compliance with the uniform policy.

Alexander Wright Jr. suggested the policy be changed altogether.

“It is very difficult to find uniforms, especially when you have to go out today and find a uniform or they can’t go to school tomorrow,” he said.

He said it was difficult for people to afford uniforms for school and clothes for church.

“I personally would like to see the school policy done away with,” he said. “I have four kids in school. I have to find uniforms for them, clothes to wear after school, plus clothes for them to wear in church on Sunday.”

Beverly White spoke about the same situation.

“I’m also here for the uniform policy,” she said. “My daughter has the same shirt she wore last year. I understand if you want to make this a policy, send it to me before I go school shopping.”

White said her daughter wore the same clothes last year and there was no reason to believe it would be different if she wasn’t informed.

“Why would I not have bought her the same as last year,” White asked. “I should have gotten a call or a letter stating the new principal wants this in place and I would have totally understood.”

She said the clothes had never been a problem before. She said her child was written up because she wore the same shirt she had last year.

White said the parents needed more time to buy the uniforms.

Beth Holt was also speaking about the policy. She also said her daughter had worn the same shirt for many years under the policy and had been allowed to wear it.

“It’s the same thing we’ve always bought and it’s always been acceptable until today,” she said.

Holt said as long as her daughter was doing her work and being a good student, she didn’t see what the minor differences in clothing mattered.

Later in the meeting, school board chair David L. Shields said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael D. Perry and the high school administration would speak about the policy and try to help parents.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Perry said the administration has reached out to Wal-Mart, Belk and other clothing distributors in the county to work on making sure parents can purchase uniforms.

He said the companies said they have never met with the school district to hear exactly what the uniform policy calls for. Perry said he will meet with the companies and PTSO presidents (as representatives of all parents) to share that knowledge.

In the meantime, he said, administrators are going to enforce the uniform policy, but would try to limit the harshness of the consequences until such time the district is comfortable that all who want uniforms can find them.