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A.L. Brown High considers school uniforms

By Hugh Fisher
hfisher@salisburypost.comKANNAPOLIS ó A.L. Brown High School may soon be the first high school in Rowan or Cabarrus counties to mandate a full uniform for students.
If the Kannapolis Board of Education approves a policy change at its next meeting, students will go from a modified dress code to a full uniform for the 2009-2010 school year.
The biggest change: Students will no longer be able to wear jeans or cargo pants to school.
According to a school system news release, “The new uniform policy requires pants, shorts, skirts, and skorts to be made of a twill-like material. … Students also must wear belts with any bottom wear that has belt loops.”
The only acceptable colors for these garments would be black, navy blue or khaki.
Also, flip-flops and sandals would no longer be allowed. Students would wear any other sort of standard footwear, including tennis shoes.
“We had received a lot of feedback from teachers,” said Principal Kevin Garay. “Teachers had spoken pretty strongly in favor of a dress code.”
Garay took over as principal July 1. The feedback, he said, came in a questionnaire asking what teachers would like to see under his administration.
A.L. Brown students went to a modified dress code instituted three years ago under then-principal Dr. Debra Morris, now the school system’s assistant superintendent.
Stopping short of a full uniform, that policy requires collared shirts of white, gray, navy or green.
All shirts must be tucked in. There are other restrictions on size and length of garments, as well as choice of outerwear ó most notably, hooded sweatshirts are not allowed.
That policy was well-received by teachers and most students, as well as other systems. Garay said the dress code has served as a model for other districts’ high school policies, including schools in Hickory and Richmond County.
“We saw improvements when we went to the modified dress code,” Garay said.
And with the new policy, “We think there’s going to be an increase in the level of pride students have,” he said.
Letters explaining the proposed policy change were sent to students’ homes beginning Monday.
Garay said he wanted to make the announcement as quickly as possible before many, if any, parents had begun shopping for school clothes.
“Our biggest concern, and it was from the beginning, was the time frame,” he said. “With a new principal coming in, we were limited in the amount of time we had to publicize this.”
The new school year in Kannapolis begins August 25.
Garay also said he understood that some parents might have difficulty affording new clothing. “We will work with those parents on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Garay expects the Board of Education to pass the policy change at Monday’s meeting. “The board has expressed to us that they are thrilled that we are seeking a school uniform policy,” he said.
The Board meets Monday at 3 p.m. at the system’s administrative office building, located at 100 Denver St., off East First Street, in Kannapolis.

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