The Volusia County School Board unanimously voted to advertise changes to the district’s “Student Appearance, Dress and Uniform Code” that would eliminate uniforms altogether.
Standard prohibitions, like no hats or offensive slogans, will still be in force in the dress code, which remains in effect.
One of the main reasons to eliminate the uniform code, School Board members said, was that it wasn’t uniformly enforced, especially in high schools.
“We’re not following the policy,” Board Member Anita Burnette said.
Board Member Carl Persis explained some of the history of the policy and its many revisions. A uniform code has been in place since 2016.
“We kept trying to give them more options so it would be easier to be in compliance. And then we started giving them so many options that you really could go to a school and you wouldn’t know whether they were wearing their uniform. We just kept broadening it,” Persis said. “I think what that led to was that the faculty and staff didn’t know whether the child was in compliance or out of compliance. We had a lack of consistency.”
The combination of lack of enforcement and more important concerns led some board members to support eliminating uniforms.
“I am supportive of this because I believe that we’re in the business of educating students. I would rather spend our energy educating students than taking them out of class because they’re wearing the wrong color shirt,” Board Member Ruben Colón said.
Still, the dress code in general continued to be a point of discussion, with board members debating closed-toe and heeled shoes, a provision required by the now-defunct uniform code but not the dress code, as well as a requirement in the dress code that prohibits “clothing not properly fastened or with tears.”
“It is very hard sometimes to find jeans without holes in them. They sell them that way,” Colón said.
After some discussion about current style — and Googling to see if jeans without tears existed — the School Board opted to keep the language banning torn clothing.
School Superintendent Dr. Scott Fritz pointed out that styles and clothing options change, like the relatively recent popularity of slide-on sandals among student-athletes.
“I think what we should do is constantly review, and revise annually, and look at that dress code,” Fritz concluded.
The board ultimately agreed to include a “no flip-flops” rule in the footwear requirements in the dress code.
“Flip-flops come off. People step on the back of it, and the kid goes flying,” Persis said.
The School Board will vote to finalize the changes at the next regular meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 27, in the Volusia County School District Administrative Complex boardroom, 200 N. Clara Ave., DeLand.