April 27, 2007

No Uniform Results Tied to School Dress Codes


The use of standard mode of dress in some district schools has had little effect on suspension rates and student achievement, Board of Education members learned Thursday.

"I have a feeling if my daughter watched these school board meetings, she would text me and say: I told you so,' " said Amos Quick, whose daughter Jasmine attends Dudley High School and must wear a uniform.

John Wright, chief auxiliary officer for the district, reviewed suspensions, office referrals and state exam scores before and after schools implemented standard mode of dress.

"You do not find one significant trend one way or another," Wright said.

For example, Bluford Elementary saw its out--of--school suspensions increase from 21 to 43 after standard mode of dress was implemented during the 2004--05 school year. Cone Elementary saws its suspensions drop from 53 to 26 after ordering uniforms three years ago.

Nine schools studied saw both rises and declines in end--of-- grade test scores.

However, principals reported that students' self--esteem improved with uniforms and that schools experienced increased school pride and fewer suspensions related to dress conflicts.

That report came as six more schools, including High Point Central High School, recently announced decisions to adopt the stricter dress codes. That brings the total number of Guilford County schools requiring uniforms next school year to 22.

Acceptable attire typically includes button--down and polo shirts, slacks and knee--length skirts.

Board members took no action on the report, but Quick wondered if the school system should implement uniforms at all schools to keep some from feeling penalized. Wright said he thinks uniforms should be decided on the individual school level.

Chairman Alan Duncan said, "We ought to take some message back to our schools with this."

That message: S chool leaders shouldn't see uniforms as a panacea and should use them in tandem with other policies to address student achievement and discipline, Duncan said. And the majority of parents and school employees should support their use.

In other business, the board:

l approved the creation of a community task force to study the district's handling of student misbehavior. The committee, composed of up to 24 members, would report by January with recommendations to reduce suspensions, improve school resource officer education programs and improve campus safety.

l formally decided to use an expected insurance settlement on Eastern Guilford High School to pay back the loan to rebuild the school. The board has requested $53 million in certificates of participation from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.

l voted to use remaining 2003 bond funds to pay for tennis courts and video surveillance at Northeast and Southern high schools and video surveillance at Southwest and Northwest high schools.

l approved a $5 increase in After--school Care Enrichment Services fees to $40 per week.

Contact Morgan Josey at

373--7078 or mjosey


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