Dallas School District: Paddling out, uniforms in
By Toya Lynn Stewart
Dallas Morning News, March 31, 2005

Trustees vote down policy, 7-0; uniforms OK'd through 8th grade

Paddling is out in the Dallas school district. Uniforms are in.

Dallas school trustees voted Thursday to end corporal punishment and to mandate uniforms for students through the eighth grade.

The trustees' 7-0 vote to end paddling came with little discussion. Trustee Hollis Brashear was absent during the vote, and trustee Lew Blackburn was present but did not vote. The policy change went into effect immediately.

Trustee Ron Price, who supports paddling, said the district had successfully provided alternative methods of discipline.

"I can support this action item and do away with corporal punishment," Mr. Price said before voting.

The 7-0 decision to mandate uniforms for nearly 120,000 students came with a bit more discussion.

Mr. Price urged his colleagues to support the move to mandate uniforms. He told them that while having uniforms wouldn't fix everything that's ailing Dallas schools, it was a step forward.

Mr. Blackburn disagreed. He said he is not in favor of a school uniform policy being adopted without more parental input. He wondered how uniforms would make schools safer or increase academic achievement.

Mr. Blackburn also disagreed with the way that policy was written. He told board members that the way the uniform policy was written, it eliminated options for parental involvement.

"I can see we're telling parents, 'You're not important enough.' ... We're telling parents, 'We do not want to hear your voice,' " Mr. Blackburn said.

He added that the policy left decisions about uniforms in the high schools solely to the principals.

Mr. Brashear agreed. He told the other trustees that the policy was "highly inappropriate" because it would allow high school principals to make decisions regardless of board decisions.

"We do not need to give principals authority to decide on uniforms," he said.

Trustees decided to amend the policy to include in the decision-making each campus' site-based decision making committee, parent-teacher groups and other administrators.

Still, Mr. Brashear said, further discussion about the policy is needed.

Before leaving the meeting, Mr. Brashear asked trustees to table the vote and further discuss the proposed dress code changes. Trustees voted 7-2 against that motion. Mr. Brashear and Mr. Blackburn voted in favor.

The two trustees weren't alone, though.

At least one person attending the meeting asked the trustees to hold public forums and continue their discussions. Another asked them to vote against uniforms. Someone else praised them for the idea and said she supported the change.
See two articles about school uniforms:

Diane Birdwell, a Dallas teacher and representative from the teachers group NEA Dallas, asked trustees to consider including uniforms in the policy change. She told them that NEA had surveyed its teachers and "75 percent of us are begging for uniforms and we need them at the high school level."

"I am begging you to reconsider uniforms for the high school level," she said.

Trustees have said they will revisit the policy and could consider mandating uniforms at the high school level in the future.

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