Mandatory School Uniform Letters
Tony Franklin to The Ledger 06/11/99
Dallas Hughes to the Ledger 06/10/99
Karen Cook to the Ledger 06/10/99
Tim Tillman to The Ledger 06/03/99
Robert Charles Pickering to the PCSB and the DEC 05/27/99
Darlene Williams to the School Board 04/21/99
Chris and Debbie Hughes to the School Board 04/21/99
Robert Williams to Bob Macey 04/20/99
Darlene Williams to Andrea Whiteley 04/16/99
Darlene Williams to Brenda Reddout 04/16/99 
Tim Tillman to The Lakeland Ledger 04/16/99
Robert Williams to the Lakeland Ledger 04/15/99
 

  Polk County School Uniforms Home Page



From: Tony Franklin
To:      The Ledger
Date:  06/11/99

If you think that uniforms are going to reduce violent crimes in our schools, then the men in white uniforms need to come and take you away. If you were so convinced that it would, why would you stop at middle school and not make it mandatory for high school as well, where the propensity for violence is greatest?

One writer suggested that if the boys in Colorado would have been wearing uniforms the shootings would not have occurred. How ludicrous! The violence was in the mind and the soul of the boys, not in what they were wearing. Another writer states that military and sports teams, so why not kids in school? First, the men and women in both the military and sports are there by choice - kids are mandated by law to attend school. Secondly, uniforms help to identify which side or team you belong to. Finally, uniforms are meant to take the individuality away and make you a team thinker.

The decline of the family unit is the root of the problem. Moms need to fulfill their role in life and raise their children - which means they need to be home, where they belong, when the kids get home from school. Laws need to be changed so that you can spank your child when he or she deserves it, without the fear of going to jail.

Finally, if the kids have to wear uniforms, the school should provide them, and teachers should be required to wear uniforms too.


From: Dallas Hughes
To:      The Ledger
Date:  06/10/99

In response to Superintendent of Schools Glenn Reynold's comments to The Ledger in which he was quoted as saying an example of support for uniforms is evident in the more than 4,000 students who are on the waiting lists for magnet schools, which require their students to wear uniforms. I have this to say: How dare you, sir? How dare you speak for my wife and me.

We have two children on the lists for magnet schools and we do not support uniforms. If I were to assume that those 4,000 students have both parents, that leaves 7,998 parents that have chosen to enroll their children in the highly sought after magnet schools.

Unlike Mr. Reynolds, I can't and won't speak for the other 7,998 parents and their feelings for or against uniforms. I think I can safely say, though, that the reason these parents signed up their children for magnet schools had nothin [to do] with them requiring uniforms. The reasons are very simple. The money is being spent on the magnet schools, new books, new PCs, and more intense math., science, and music courses.

Mr. Reynolds did nothing but make himself look like a fool when he made that remark. He owes the parents of those 4,000 students an apology.


From: Karen M. Cook
To:      The Ledger
Date:  06/10/99

As another voice in the vast chorus regarding mandatory school uniforms, I must express my disappointment. To say I'm appalled that a board that governs the educational values of our children has decided in favor of this issue is an understatement. There are valid concerns that have brought about this decision. The assumption, however, that this decision will help resolve those concerns is, to say the least, ludicrous. Aside from the obvious issue of basic human and American freedoms, I have a much deeper concern. That concern is the reaching of conformity as an acceptable and pleasing way of life.

As a mother of five children, two of whom are now in their third year of college, one in middle school, and one in elementary school, there are some basic issues with which I disagree. The first of those being the cost issue. Having purchased uniforms myself for the past several years, I find that there is no cost saving. My children still need play clothes that they can get dirty and have fun in - as well as needing clothes to wear when dirt stains and holes are inappropriate. Add to that the cost of uniforms, and I am spending more money, not less.

As to the issue of designer clothes, I have certainly fought more than my fair share of battles over this. But I have a question: Will keeping those clothes off the back of children in school resolve the core of that issue? What of the after-school programs, kids at the malls, at the movies, skating rinks and all the other places kids choose to congregate? Will the problem of stylish dress no longer exist?

I will be the first to admit that there have to be laws, regulations, rules and boundaries. But is it our goal to teach that the only way to successfully learn to respect and abide by those boundaries is to conform? Or rather should we be finding a way to teach our children to learn to accept themselves and others by learning to live together within those boundaries? To embrace all of those differences that make them the productive, strong, and caring individuals we wish them to become? To learn that it is the very differences in ourselves and others that allow us to become better through understanding and acceptance?


From: Tim Tillman
To:      The Ledger
Date:   06/03/99

              On Wednesday, May 26, The Editorial Board of The Ledger published commentary
              wherein the writer expressed, "Using language reminiscent of a 1960s anti-war rally, some
              parents are talking of massive resistance and boycotts to force the School Board to back
              down." The Editorial Board needs to be reminded of a very important lesson in history.
              The First Amendment states in part, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom
              of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
              the government for a redress of grievances." These are rights that the Editorial Board
              employees on a daily basis to set public policy and control elected officials. Apparently,
              these are rights which the Editorial Board would rather The People not have. These are
              rights which we who oppose the Superintendent's draconian mandatory uniform policy,
              are employing in our efforts to overturn the School Board's vote.
 

              The Editorial Board freely admits that the Superintendent's dictatorial edict represents an
              oppressive decree from an out of control arm of the government. The Editorial Board
              states, "As government oppression goes, this is pretty small potatoes." This statement begs
              many questions. At what magnitude is it necessary to resist government oppression? Is it
              ever necessary to resist government oppression? Does the Editorial Board hope at some
              unspecified date to constitute a Ministry of Propaganda for this oppressive government?
              Does the Editorial Board actually constitute a Ministry of Propaganda for this oppressive
              government at this time? We the People are truly interested to hear the answers to these
              and many other critical questions.

 
              The Editorial Board cautions parents, ? ... they shouldn't put their children at risk by their
              opposition.? This leads one ponder the source of risk being referred to by the Editorial
              Board. This implied threat could come from many sources. The Editorial Board may
              simply be concerned that our children might appear on campus in gang attire. Thus, the
              Editorial Board may be performing a much needed public service. I doubt it. The
              Editorial Board might be implying that a cadre of militant proponents of the
              Superintendent?s edict are standing by to take our children hostage. The more likely
              source of the threat may be the same source of the Superintendent?s pre-dawn revelation,
              that swayed him from his errant path back onto the road toward political righteousness.

 
              The Editorial Board seems to believe that precious few parents will stand for their parental
              rights. The Editorial Board seems to believe that some rights are not worth fighting to
              retain. This is difficult fathom. If only one person feels that their rights are being violated,
              action must be taken to determine if these feelings are valid. If so, those rights must be
              protected. Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood firm while the vast majority
              of the members of their race sat silent. The overwhelming majority of the population
              preceding the American Revolution did not care one way or the other.

 
              We will stand firm!


From: Robert Charles Pickering
To:     The Polk County School Board and the Democratic Executive Committee
Date:  05/27/99

My dear friends,

On May 11th the Polk County School Board voted to make the wearing of school uniforms mandatory for all students in elementary and middle schools beginning this fall.  The Board, in accepting the reccomendation of Superintendent Glenn Reynolds, agreed to eliminate the parental exemption ("opt-out") which had been in place since uniforms were first introduced in Polk County three years ago.

While I respect the views of those who supported the Board in it's decision and share many of their concerns, I feel that this new direction is ill-advised and an overreaction in light of tragic events which have taken place recently elsewhere across the nation.  This policy will also leave the school district vunerable to long and costly litigation which will take away necessary funds and other resources from it's educational mission.

By it's 4-3 vote, the School Board deliberately chose to ignore the many voices and actions of it's constituents who have expressed their feelings on mandatory uniforms in one way or another since this debate began.  At several board meetings where the uniform issue has been addressed, the majority of speakers were opposed in any way to eliminating the "opt-out". More importantly, one should only look at the statistics regarding compliance and the percentage of parents choosing the "opt-out"...deciding to make decisions regarding their children's school attire for themselves rather than a government board doing it for them.

As I live in her district, the vote of Ms. Brenda Reddout in favor of the mandatory uniform question is particulary dissapointing.  I had always found Ms. Reddout to be a person of generally moderate views, and I worked hard for her election to the School Board.  With every fibre of my being I hope to find and actively work on behalf of a qualified candidate willing to challenge her should she decide to seek a second term.

My friends, for any policy to be successful it must be well thought out, clearly written, consistantly and strictly enforced, and have the support of a clear majority of those who would be directly affected.  Certainly the School Board's recent decision DOES NOT meet this criteria!  Instead, I would suggest that the Board form a committee consisting of administrators, teachers, parents, and students from across the county who would study the issue of student attire and personal appearance.  This committee would, with the aid of the school district's staff, draw up a proposed dress code policy which would address concerns over issues of health, safety, security, and discipline.  In my opinion the result would be a dress code which would be agreeable to the vast majority of Polk Countians and much less divisive within our community, while allowing the School Board to concentrate on it's primary mission...the education of our more precious assets, our children.

There is an interesting site on the Internet that you should check out regarding this new uniform policy:  <www.gate.net/~rwms/Uniform.html>.  This site, constructed by Robert and Darlene Williams of Winter Haven, has a number of very informative areas to discover.  It has a very well thought out statement about why many of us oppose the idea of mandatory uniforms, statstics regarding opt-out rates in schools, information regarding "opt-out" exemption policies across the nation, litigation resulting from school uniform policies, and news articles on the subject.  I would ask that you look over the site and get a full picture.

   Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
Robert Charles Pickering


From:     Darlene Williams
To:          Chris and Debbie Hughes, Andrea WhiteleyBrenda ReddoutJack EnglishJim Nelson , Bob Macey, Jim Miles, Larry Peacock
Date:      4/22/99

[NOTE: This is in response to the letter from Chris and Debbie Hughes immediately below.]

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hughes,

What a well written, thought provoking letter!!  I, like you , have spent many hours pondering this issue and trying to determine why our board refuses to acknowledge the obvious.  We, the parents of students in this county, do not want nor welcome their surrogate parenting attempts.  I currently abide by their established policy by opting my child out on an annual basis. NOTE: originally the policy was to opt out the child once and it would follow them from school to school.   If they remove my option I will probably join the even greater numbers of parents who do not comply, nor do they opt out.  In short I'll join the "blow off" faction.  The threat of suspension will undoubtedly be met with continued non-compliance and ultimately litigation.  I also agree with your analysis that our board and our superintendent has a responsibility to be good stewards of our money.  If they remove the opt out provision, this will almost certainly result in a  law suit.  Let's be honest here.  The data, which we have offered to make available to all board members, from studies is now showing that the uniforms do not provide the promised "magic bullet".  Anyone wishing further data on this and the county's own compliance numbers can visit our web site at: http://www.gate.net/~rwms/Uniform.html  .  Also, does the board really want to go to court to defend their perceived authority to tell us what color shirts to dress our kids in?  This is past ridiculous!! Let's move on and pay some more attention to what is going into our  kids, and less attention to what is going onto their backs.

Sincerely,

Darlene Williams
S.A.C. member, and parent.
 


From:     Chris and Debbie Hughes
To:          Andrea WhiteleyBrenda ReddoutJack EnglishJim Nelson
Date:      4/21/99

ATTN: SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS

As SAC members, school volunteers, Business Partners, and parents we are offended our school board members would revisit the uniform issue. We attended the May 1996 meeting in which the very vocal majority opposed the uniform policy.   What has changed???  It is clear, should you force this policy down our throats, our precious financial resources will be consumed in litigation.  The board has a fiduciary responsibillity to utilize monies in a responsible way.  A uniform policy without an opt out clause would be illegal according to the ACLU and Mr. Bridges.  Why do we have a school board attorney if you do not heed his advice???

Why put our over worked, underpaid education professionals in this intolerable, no win position?  It seems you want them to be surrogate parents as well as educators. My child already has two parents he does not need anymore.  Please concentrate on additional alternative schools for disruptive students.  It is my understanding there is not enough space for ESE students whom have reached their limit of 10  days suspension,  per school year.  Get these students out of the mainstream, until they can learn how to behave.

Our positon has not waivered, we will not comply to the uniform policy.  You have no right to take on my parental responsibitlies.  If action should be taken to force my child to comply, I will attend school with him.
 

Thank you
Chris and Debbie Hughes

====================

Ms. Reddout's Reply:
 

   Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 08:00:19 -0400
   From:  BReddout@pcsb.k12.fl.us
     To: Chris and Debbie Hughes

Dear Mr/Mrs. Hughes:  Thank you for your thought provoking letter.  I appreciate your comments.
Brenda


   From: Robert Williams
   To: Bob Macey, Polk County School Board, District 3
   Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1999 07:11:35 -0400

Bob,

It was very nice to meet you yesterday.

Now that you have had a chance to look at it, what do you think about
the Brunsma and Rockquemore paper?

Robert Williams


From:     Darlene Williams
To:         Andrea Whiteley - Polk County School Board, District 5
Date:      4/16/99

Mrs. Whitely,

Welcome to the Third Annual "Uniform debate"!  I read your comments, as quoted by the Ledger, stating that you would remove the opt-out only if you could suspend students who don't wear uniforms.  How Dare You?!! What happened to "We don't want to disrupt the educational process?" You need to check your own compliance statistics, and realize that what you are proposing is an administrative nightmare.  I realize that it must be a bit unnerving to be the only sitting board member to have originally voted for this fiasco,  but come on, let it go.  Realize that no matter what you decide, the majority of the parents in this county have spoken.  Many of us have opted-out, as per policy,  but the majority of those in non-compliance have simply,"blown it off".  If you try to suspend all of those,  you will create an unbelievable mess.

This policy was supposed to improve the educational process.  It has done nothing but cause division and discontent. It is time to admit that this policy was badly handled from the beginning.  You can't close the barn door after the horse is out.  This is Polk County.  Accept it.. The majority of people in this county will not opt-out nor will they comply.  Are you prepared to deal with that?

Enforce the dress code policy uniformly, and eliminate this divisive, destructive "uniform policy".  Let's move on.

You cannot afford to be a test case for the ACLU;  and make no mistake that will be the case.

We have to repay the  state $10 million.  Don't squander my children's future defending an indefensible policy.

Sincerely,

Darlene Williams

P.S., you can learn more if you visit our web page at http://www.gate.net/~rwms/Uniform.html .
 


From:     Darlene Williams
To:         Brenda Reddout - Polk County School Board, District 4
Date:      4/16/99

Brenda,

Well, it's been a year and here we are again.  You were quoted in THE LEDGER as saying that you felt the policy was effectively dead already. I hope you are prepared to stand by that.  Essentially, this is the third annual public hearing on this issue.  I'm really weary of this. You guys have better things to do, and so do I.  You know that litigation is imminent if you remove the opt-out.  That should be the end of it.  We already owe the state about 10 million dollars due to an honest error.  We can't afford to pay attorney's fees.  Accept the fact that regardless of any of our personal feelings, the overwhelming majority of parents in this county have soundly rejected this policy. "Actions speak louder than words", check your own compliance statistics and you will see that if you remove the opt-out, you will have a discipline fiasco.  Even though many of us have opted-out , as per policy, many ,many more have simply "blown it off".

You have in effect a very strident (perhaps too strident) dress code policy.  Enforce it within reason.  Unfortunately, Brenda, you and I both know that many administrators in this county have no common sense. Set up some reasonable standards for enforcement that will not create an undue burden on your principals and staff, and that will not be onerous to the parents.  Enforce the dress code uniformly, and drop the "uniform dress code".

If you will do some research on the national picture, including the Los Angeles School District,  you will see that the alleged benefits of uniforms are at best questionable, and at worst skewed and misleading. Let it go.  Let's move on to issues that might actually make a difference.

Could you please respond and tell me if you are planning to support the elimination of this obviously failed policy, or if you are going to take this district into a test case for the ACLU?

In closing, you can reach us at our web site @ http://www.gate.net/~rwms/Uniform.html.  we are getting organized this time.  Please, let's move on.  You have the opportunity to correct a policy that was badly handled and ill-conceived from the beginning.  Put a stop to it now.  If you remove the opt-out , you will create a disaster for your administrators.  Stop it now!

Sincerely,

Darlene Williams




From:     TimTillman
To:         Lakeland Ledger
Date:      Submitted on 4/16/99.
 

It seems that the school uniform issue is once again heading for a vote after a public hearing to be held May 11, 1999 at 6:00 PM at Bartow Academy which is located at 590 S. Wilson Avenue, Bartow. Call 534-7410 if you need further directions on how to get to the school.

After all, in this age of psycho-political manic behavior at the federal and state levels, who could expect less from the Polk County School Board (PCSB)? Year 1, the mandatory uniform policy is amended to mandatory unless a parent holds religious convictions that would prohibit their children from complying to opt out with parents written notice - no reason needed. Year 2 remove the opt out becomes keep the opt out and polo shirts, twill shorts, slacks, and skirts become denim and cordoroy permittted. Basically, to comply with the uniform code this year only the uniform shirt color was mandated bu the PCSB and supplemented by the administrators of each school. Now comes May 11, 1999. The PCSB is once again trying to ramrod this oppressive policy down the throats of the citizens of this county who pay their salaries. This time they want only uniform clothing and NO OPT OUT.

Each year more and more parents have seen the folly of the school uniform policy. School uniforms are cheaper than regular school clothes. No, they are not. Parents are lamenting that they must buy two sets of clothing, lest their children have only uniforms to wear. Uniforms reduce class distinction between the rich and the poor. No, they do not. Uniforms will not change a single child's neighborhood, parents' income, car, motorboat, or ski trips to Colorado. Uniforms will improve grades and reduce violence. There is no empirical data collected in a fair study, using a proper control group and proper statistical methods to analyze the data, that will support these assumptions. The majority of parents want uniforms. No, they do not. Although faced with reality on a daily basis, there are still members of the PCSB that refuse to bow to the will of the people.

Parents, I ask that you get involved with this issue. With your help, we can kill the uniform policy this year. Please call or write the members of the PCSB, the PCSB attorney, and the Superintendent. Tell these fine folks that you are tired of fiscal resources being wasted on this lunacy. Please come to the public hearing and bring friends. Speak your alloted three minutes. Voice your desires.




From:     Robert Williams
To:         Lakeland Ledger
Date:      Published on 4/15/99.

Supporters of removing the opt out clause from the Polk County school uniform policy are neglecting an important fact. The opt out is not the reason for the policy's failure. All of the most successful uniform policies across the country allow parents to opt out for any reason - including Long Beach California, the model for uniform policies across the country. Every district in Florida (including Miami - Dade) with uniforms allow parents to opt out for any reason. Removal of the opt out will make Polk county's uniform policy one of the most extreme in the country, and certainly in the state. The opt out is clearly not the reason for the failure of uniforms in Polk county.

The ACLU has made its desire to challenge uniform policies without an opt out clear. In order to do that, they need parents who are willing to participate in such a lawsuit. As a parent of a Polk county school student and a member of the ACLU, I am eager to participate, and I know many other parents willing to join. Even the federal school uniform policy has indicated that polices without an opt out "could be vulnerable to a legal challenge". Florida's enhanced constitutional privacy guarantee makes such a challenge even more likely to succeed here, making this an ideal test case for the ACLU. Even the school board attorney has pointed out that if the opt out is removed, they will spend a lot of time in court defending it. To waste education resources defending such an extreme version of a questionable policy is unconscionable. I urge the school board to do the right thing and keep the opt out policy. Better yet, they should remove the uniform policy altogether and move on to more important educational matters.