As of Wednesday, February 5, 2014
MABTON - If it's July there must be a school uniform brouhaha at Mabton Jr./Sr. High School. For the second straight year - less than a month before school starts - parents here are facing a dress code issue. Kris Kollmar is one of those parents and last night, Monday, expressed frustration to the Mabton School Board about a policy change for the 2013-14 school year requiring students to wear a polo shirt sporting a school logo. Holding up a letter he received last week outlining the policy, Kollmar said it had nothing written about requiring a logo and wanted to know if it was true that parents had to buy the shirts from one vendor. Superintendent Minerva Morales said it was her understanding from Assistant Principal Sue Sartain that a committee of parents decided to change the policy this year. Principal Caleb Oten, in his first month on the job, confirmed that shirts had to be bought at the school. He said the idea was to buy them in bulk and offer the shirts at a discounted price for parents. He said Imperial Screen Printing of Sunnyside is providing the shirts at a reduced cost. The school, he added, is selling them at a slightly higher price - $10 each - with the profits benefitting the school's ASB fund. "ASB makes a little bit of money," he said. Oten said the logo requirement was another way to unify the school. School board member Natalie Palomarez countered that students wearing the same colors under the old policy already show unity. Kollmar said he had purchased back-to-school clothing before learning of the logo requirement, then took issue with proceeds benefiting ASB. "I was under the impression that fundraisers were voluntary," he said. Kollmar after the meeting added, "They're supposed to be a non-profit, but they're profiting." In response to Kollmar's comments, Morales said the district will review the committee's recommendations. She also asked Kollmar to let Oten know if he finds a vendor selling the shirts at a lower price. It was at this same point last year when parents packed a Mabton School Board meeting concerned about enforcement of a uniform dress code that required students to wear certain colors in an effort to root out gang and disciplinary issues. As with Kollmar last night, parents last year were upset the dress change was enforced just before school started, after many had already done back-to-school shopping. Students and parents picketed in response last year and the district gave families extra time to comply with the uniform rule.