Is it time to rethink the $ 443 college uniform policy?

Around 1997, Dodge City Public Schools implemented a uniform policy for Dodge City Middle School. The decision impacted 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes in Dodge City when Comanche College opened its doors to teachers and students in 2012 after renovation.

Its location at 1601 1st Ave., was the location of Dodge City High School built in 1924, according to the CMS website.

Now, after more than 20 years, parents are questioning the 20-year-old uniform policy.

Recently, a parent of a student at Comanche College took to social media to voice their grievances over a decision regarding his daughters wearing a tied hoodie to school.

Parent Natoshia Williams asked about CMS students allowed to wear extracurricular clothing.

“My child was chosen for the Honorary Orchestra and last weekend he performed in the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) concert, a school-sanctioned event,” read the report. message from Williams. “While over there, we bought this hoodie so she could wear it to school. Lo and behold, we tell her she can’t wear it because it’s ‘too distracting’.

“Hence my question. Because I’m told that football guys have to wear their hoodies all day long, so why can’t she wear her ‘team’s hoodies? “”

In the Dodge City Public Schools Secondary Student-Parent Handbook for Grades 6-8 for 2021-2022, on page 29, the uniform policy states, “Colleges USD 443 have adopted a uniform dress policy. Students should wear clothing while attending school or school-related activities and while riding to school. required by the coach. Refer to each school’s addendum for specific uniform policy. “

Regarding the incident involving the CMS student and the orchestra hoodie, Kerri Baker, Public Information Officer for Dodge City USD 443, said: “A Comanche parent bought a hoodie at the KMEA festival held in Dodge City, the sweatshirt did not comply with the school dress code, so it cannot be worn when attending school or school related activities and when traveling in provided school transportation.There is no consideration at this time to revise or change the policy.

“We strive to help our students learn and the great things they do. “

The decision and enforcement of the uniform policy, according to Dodge City USD 443 Education Council chairwoman Lisa Killion, is that the BOE approves the school’s textbooks and policies, the administration enforces the policies.

“The policy has been changed over the years,” Killion said. “The board approves the manuals every year. To my knowledge, there has been no discussion of removing the uniform policy.”

Street gangs and the need for change

In the late 1990s, when the uniform policy was first implemented, one reason was the influx of street gangs who terrorized the streets of Dodge City.

“Back then there was a lot of gang activity in schools,” said Lisa Killion. “One of the reasons was to stop wearing gang colors at school. Another is to distract from what the students are wearing.”

Then, in 2010, a case began to take shape that significantly changed Dodge City as a whole.

According to Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis, a Corrupt and Racketeer Influenced Organizations Act, or RICO, was initiated in an effort to tackle local violent criminal street gangs who primarily targeted others. Hispanics, especially Guatemalans, for “home invasion thefts”.

“These are particularly violent acts where the gang members break down doors and the members pistol whips inside threatening to kill them if they do not hand over all the money for the house,” Francis said. “It usually happened after the paychecks had been cashed by many domestic workers, but not placed in bank accounts. Children and women were seized and guns pointed at their heads as gang members demanded money. There were many other miscellaneous crimes that were included in the case including murder. The point was we had to do something bigger than what we were getting across the state and we eventually found a willing federal partner in the ATF who sponsored our case and brought us into federal jurisdiction. The case took over 2 years to set up before it could be released in April 2012. Once we did, we reclaimed our city from the two-decade violent hold the gangs had over us. city. “

This effort led to 2012 with the roundup of 23 Norteno gang members (DV and LCC) who were indicted by the federal government on numerous felony charges.

“There were also seven other isolated cases,” Francis said. “Gang crime immediately dropped and gang members went into hiding. “

At this time, according to Francis, street gangs were still a problem for law enforcement, “Just far from where we were,” he said. “A lot of these monsters have been released in the last few years and more are coming. Some have returned to Dodge and are being watched by law enforcement. Some have managed to get back to jail because, well , some things they just can’t fix. Gangs still exist within the community but have been very low key for years now. We sometimes see graffiti here and there that half the time isn’t even displayed properly , which tends to show the immaturity and surface level of the subject setting it up.

“Nonetheless, we are paying attention and reducing each of these incidents. We will continue to fight gangs in this community as I refuse to allow a return to the grip of these animals.”

The future of college uniform politics

With more than 20 years separating the first implementation of the college uniform policy and the diminishing grip of street gangs in Dodge City, the question is, should the policy be abolished?

For many parents, the response is mixed.

“I have a child in Comanche right now, in 8th grade. My youngest will be in Comanche next year,” said Williams. “I would support the elimination of uniforms. There is no good reason for them.

“It does not create equality in any way, not from a monetary or social point of view. This is another set of clothes / hoodies that parents have to buy because parents always have to provide their children with clothes. everyday, isn’t it?

“It just causes more problems than it solves, and for what? So that they can turn around and go to high school and not wear a uniform?

“Like someone else said, it’s hardly a uniform now. It’s jeans and spirits shirts and the like. Real uniforms are all exactly the same!

“When I was in college it was a white or blue polo shirt, khaki or dark blue pants. That was it. No jeans, no spirited shirts. And guess what? There were still gang fights. , there were still bullies and all the social cliques. They didn’t help anything. “

Maggie Slattery, parent of a grade 8 student at DCMS, said, “I can see why they put it in place, but I think it’s time to get rid of it. For only three years of their school career, his uniforms in addition to private school obviously. What meaning does it have? “(With) everyday non-uniform and already in jeans, they might as well get rid of them.”

Another CMS parent, Michelle Vargas, also reiterated the street gang dress code, but agreed a change was needed.

“Today’s generation should not continue to be punished or forcing children to wear uniforms,” Vargas said. “Children would probably be much happier and should be aloud to express who they are and allow them to dress in their own style.”

On the other hand, not only do some see the uniform policy remaining in place, but some think it should be more stringent.

“Well, when I was teaching they were way too loose with the uniform rules,” said Terry Lee, retired DCMS teacher. “You can’t say it was a uniform anymore. The definition of the uniform is ‘always the same’ but when I was teaching they didn’t all look the same. I think they should keep the uniforms but tighten up the rules for them. I saw a big improvement in discipline when we went from street clothes to uniforms. “

CMS 6th-grade parent Molly Johnson said she thinks keeping politics makes life a lot easier.

“(It) makes it a lot simpler and we college parents need all the help we can get with ease,” Johnson said. “There are good incentives for non-uniform days. It gives them something to work on. The current uniform policy is much more lenient than it used to be. They have a ton of options. on what clothes they can wear in politics.

“When these children enter the workforce, they will most likely have to wear a uniform or adhere to a dress code. Why not instill a valuable work ethic in them now?

“It’s really not that hard to stick to this policy.”

Grade 7 DCMS parent Shenoa Albers said her mornings were easier and she could save money.

“My daughter likes it because she doesn’t have to choose clothes, that’s what she says when she wins a non-uniform day,” Albers said.

As to why a uniform policy is in place for college kids only, Killion said college kids fall between childhood and teens and in that time frame comes peer pressure.

“College students can be mean,” Killion said. “If everyone is wearing the same thing, there is less reason to ‘worry’ or laugh at.

“Most adults wear some type of uniform at work – although it’s not called a ‘uniform’.

“Whether it’s a nurse wearing a lab coat, a welder wearing a denim shirt, waiters wearing a corporate uniform, or a businessman wearing a suit, virtually all of us wear some standard of uniform in our life as workers. every day in one form or another. “

To contact the writer, email vmarshall@gannett.com


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