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Uniformly rejected

By Staff
Board says no to dress code change
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Red knit shirts and khaki pants won't be mandatory items on the back-to-school shopping lists of Hartselle students this fall.
Hartselle City Schools Board of Education members voted down a school uniform policy for the 2003-2004 academic year 4-1 Monday night.
Board member Ron Abercrombie cast the one vote supporting the uniform policy.
"The thing that disappoints me most is that the children didn't come first last (Monday) night," Abercrombie said. "I'm also disappointed that the people who brought it (uniforms) up in the first place didn't vote for it this time. The decision was cut and dry before we ever sat down."
Superintendent Dr. Lee Hartsell stated at the April 14 board meeting that a committee would be appointed to determine the cost and style of uniforms before the issue was brought to a vote.
According to Abercrombie, that committee was never formed or implemented.
The board began considering uniforms in March when members said they were concerned with the number of dress code violations and the effect on instructional time.
Board members Abercrombie and Jeff Gray were unsuccessful in obtaining a board majority agreement on the policy.
Parents and teachers were then asked to cast votes on the matter at Hartselle schools during a two-week system-wide survey.
According to results, a small majority of teachers and parents didn't support school uniforms.
However, Abercrombie said the results were too close and cast by too few people to get an accurate consensus.
"A small, negative minority showed up, voiced their opinion, and kept a great thing from happening," Abercrombie said. "Just as with the drug testing policy, we never had an opportunity to meet with the community and discuss the issue at length."
Although unable to vote on the issue, Hartselle students didn't let their opinions go unheard.
A limited number of students presented petitions opposing the uniform policy to the board, publicly voiced concerns at board meetings regarding clothing choices and individuality, and held a protest across from the high school.
Hartsell said the uniform issue was met with unfavorable public response when it was presented six years ago.