The Bryan County Board of Education sent home a copy of the newly revised uniform policy with school children on Monday.
The proposed policy, which has yet to be adopted, has created some opposition from a number of parents, including a group of 30 who met Monday at the Richmond Hill Library.
"We want to let the board know that we’re not a few stray, crazy parents looking out to oppose them at every step," said Laura Gray, who organized the event. "There are a significant number of parents who are against mandatory school uniforms. I think they need to know who they’re representing, and I don’t think they’re getting a clear picture."
Gray said she is skeptical of the motivation behind the policy because, when she asked for the results of the parent survey, which reportedly initiated this policy, she was told by Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer the results were destroyed.
She added that a poll of parents should have taken place before this issue was revived.
Michelle Adams said that the only way to make a difference is to contact board members. She said that she did just this, which she was nervous about having never done anything like it before. She advised the group to be courteous and to keep a respectful tone if they choose to do this. She added that it is her belief that parents voicing their opinions were the reason the policy got tabled previously.
Stacy Bergsmith brought up an outstanding lawsuit in Effingham County where the board is now being sued due to pushing through a uniform policy without parent involvement and stated several similarities with the currently proposed Bryan County policy.
Bergsmith discussed the potential unavailability of required clothing because of competitive shopping with Chatham, Effingham and Liberty County school kids, all of whom have recently inducted similar policies. "60,000 kids will be buying the same type of clothing. This will inevitably cause a problem," said Bergsmith.
But the policy has it's supporters, according to BoE Vice Chairman Frances Meeks.
"There are so many people asking for it," said BoE Vice Chairman Frances Meeks, who made the initial motion to bring the policy back to the table. "We need to finish this discussion. It was only tabled for the purpose of gaining more information and I think we’ve attained that when the principals came and talked to us last week. That was my motivation for bringing this issue back so soon. We’ve heard from only a small minority of the 10-12,000 parents and 6,300 children that would be affected by this. Those who spoke out against it make up about one percent of the equation. The silent majority rules here, so we need to move forward with this issue."
Meeks said that many children in the school system are currently pushing the boundaries of the current dress code policy by coming to school "nearly naked" with many administrators spending "too much time policing this policy".
She said that mandating uniforms would be the best way to control improper clothing.
Sid Gray said, even if the policy is approved, it will not eliminate that problem because "what’s to stop them from wearing low cut uniform clothing?"
The revised policy differs from the previously released proposed version in that there is less variety to the acceptable clothing.
If approved, Bryan County students will only be allowed to wear white or navy blue shirts and khaki pants, shorts or skirts.
The original uniform policy was tabled during last month’s board of education meeting, but was thrown back on the agenda following a called meeting last week.
The called meeting included area principals advocating the policy to board members and also revealed a secret ballot by teachers which shows administration backs a uniform policy 302 to 113.
As a result of discussion among board members at that called meeting, the uniform policy was immediately taken off the table and is to be voted on at the next regular scheduled board meeting, which is May 24th at Carver Elementary.
Critics of the proposed policy say that though teachers were polled, the system failed to tap into how the parents and students feel about the policy.