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School uniforms being considered in Grandview

GRANDVIEW - Grandview Middle School Principal Matt Mallery spoke to the school board last night about the research he has been doing regarding school uniforms.

"It's not a magic bullet," he said. "It would require support from parents and the community to implement."

The idea of implementing a school uniform policy was brought about by the committee considering the issues at Grandview Middle School.

Mallery said Consultant Denise Fitch has been working with the school in looking at the current dress code and its enforcement at the school.

"This is our reality. We have guidelines and in the warmer months we see an increase in violations of the current policy," said Mallery.

Included in the current dress code, no clothing promoting alcohol, drugs, sex or gangs is allowed to be worn. Undergarments are not to be visible.

"There is a pictoral dress code posted in every room and it is mailed out to parents in the July packet," stated Mallery.

He said school uniforms do not have to be that of the image of parochial schools. In his research, he found an elementary school in Toppenish only requires that students wear dark blue bottoms (skirts, shorts, pants) and a white top, which may include a collared shirt for boys.

"There are pros and cons," said Mallery.

He listed some of the pros being a possible improvement in behavior and learning, building confidence in the students.

"But, the research shows it is like putting a band-aide on a wound," he added. "We have to take other steps to sustain the kids' ownership in their education. They need to feel a sense of belonging for their identity. We need parents to become involved."

Some of the cons Mallery listed included that the data given in research is "soft," some people may believe uniforms stifle individuality and the first amendment.

"There is the issue of religious beliefs and some schools have an 'opt out policy'," said Mallery. However, he told the school board that often those schools who do have an "opt out" policy generally have more than one school choice within the school district and the children will attend the "opt out schools."

"There is a lot of research to be found. All one has to do is Google 'school uniforms', and they will find a ton of links," Mallery commented.

Grandview School Board President Tim Grow said, "We have to make sure the community feels a part of the process. It has to treat everyone fairly."

Mallery agreed, citing more focus groups and parental involvement is necessary. "We need an open dialogue. We need more discussion. I am in support of it if the community supports it," he said.

"The first question would have to be 'What is the strategy we are trying to perform?'" stated Superintendent Kevin Chase, "What is the problem we want to examine?"

The school board and Mallery agreed whatever steps are taken in implementing a school uniform policy, it would have to be something that is acceptable to the parents and community.

"It won't fix everything. We will need to do more to ensure a sense of belonging," Mallery said.

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