The Allentown School Board approved the school uniform proposal with a 7-1 vote at its meeting on Thursday night. According to Superintendent C. Russell Mayo, the recommendation is for a full implementation across all grade levels starting next school year.
Xavier Caro, a senior student at Allen High School, spoke up regarding the proposed implementation of school uniforms prior to the Board vote.
“As a senior, the school uniforms will not affect me, so I decided to survey 9th, 10th, and 11th graders,” he stated.
Caro asked 175 students three questions regarding the proposed uniforms; do students like the idea of uniforms, will they feel safer wearing uniforms in school, and will uniforms make them feel more equal.
According to Caro, students were split 50%-50% on whether they like the idea of uniforms, but 67% stated they would not feel safer wearing uniforms to school, and only 47% would feel more equal in school when wearing a uniform.
Mayo stated that he was surprised but pleased to hear that 50% of the students surveyed by Caro were in favor of uniforms as he expected students to be “strongly against uniforms.”
According to Mayo, parents throughout the district have been sent two separate surveys regarding school uniforms and 80% of parents responded on each survey that they would be in favor of uniforms.
“The uniforms will set a business-like climate for learning and safety, it is economical for parents throughout the District, and we have had a lot of community support,” stated Mayo. “There is a need to bring consistency to our schools,” he continued.
“Our goal is to work with students to remove the distraction that clothing can be,” stated Susan Lozada, Executive Director of Community and Student Services.
Mayo stated that this will not be an easy implementation unless all administrators, staff, and parents are working together. He is expecting a spike at the beginning of this implementation across all grade levels, but he has considered adding a grace period for a short time to help students get used to the idea and give parents time to purchase the uniforms.
Mayo continued by saying that the district will deal with parents who cannot afford the uniforms on a case-by-case basis if necessary.
Evan Waite, the student representative from Allen High School, questioned what would be done regarding outside activities such as Chorale and all athletics. He stated that these students are required to dress a certain way on game days or concert days.
Lozada responded that those students would be encouraged to wear their organization’s clothing because that is considered a uniform if it is mandatory.
Board Member Julie Ambrose expressed her concerns as she voted against the proposal.
“I just have very significant concerns about the rollout,” she stated.