Henrico school board to iron out uniform policy

By Laura Geller - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – Some but not all Henrico county children could have to wear uniforms to school. The school board will tackle the issue at a work session Thursday but Wednesday NBC12 got a look at a draft of the county's plan.

Increase student safety, bridge socio-economic differences and enhance the learning environment are just a few of the goals of Henrico's proposed school uniform plan. The plan sounds like a grand idea to Chet Wade, whose daughter is a freshman at Tucker High.

"We've always believed that school is about education and not about fashion," he explained.

The idea hasn't been without controversy as students and parents wonder exactly how a plan would be implemented and whether or not uniforms would become a requirement. School board member Lamont Bagby is trying to bridge the gap.

"I want to be responsible to the constituents that say that they do want mandatory school uniforms, but I also want to be responsible and respectful to the individuals that do not desire school uniforms," he said.

The choice will not be county-wide, but left up to each school. The three page draft allows for community input through a survey of families and staff. In fact, in order for the plan to move forward, 85% of both the staff and families polled need to support uniforms at that particular school.

There's also choice when it comes to whether the program is voluntary or mandatory and what the uniform will look like. Something with a school logo won't necessarily be the standard. More than likely, students will be able to choose from several colors of pants and shirts.

"It recognizes that in a county the size of Henrico the schools are different, the parents have different thoughts about things, different needs and so it provides for a lot of flexibility," said Wade.

The transition to uniforms will take a full year beginning in September when students go back to classes.

"I don't think anybody could go into the next school year not knowing it was coming," he said.

If a school chooses the mandatory route, the recommended penalties range from contacting parents to moving the student to a school without uniforms.

The school board will discuss the plan at a work session starting at one o'clock Thursday at the Glen Echo building on Nine Mile Road. No vote is scheduled on the agenda.

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