No throngs, no placard-waving, no last-minute please for reconsideration. On a cold, drizzly evening that kept most seats before it vacant, the Flagler County School Board Tuesday approved a 1,000-word rewrite of the district’s dress code, all but officially instituting what it calls a “uniform policy” starting next fall, but that really only dresses up the existing dress code in somewhat stricter guidelines.
The board had been divided on uniforms, with Andy Dance and Trevor Tucker opposing uniforms and Sue Dickinson, Colleen Conklin and John Fischer favoring the switch. On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to move ahead with the new policy.
Tucker and Dance hadn’t changed their mind so much as they were displaying the more collegial nature of the board: they’d lost the battle against uniforms, but they’d also agreed to support the majority beyond that point and remained an integral part of the crafting of the policy. So they joined their colleagues in approving it.
Tuesday’s action approved advertising the policy for 30 days. Theoretically, advertising it allows for public input, presumably to allow for further deliberation by the board and, based on that input, the possibility of a change of mind. In reality, advertising the policy is a formality. The advertised policy appears in fine print in one newspaper in legal advertising columns few people read, and few people, least of all the board members, expect to see the matter revived before the final vote formalizing the policy adoption at the board’s second meeting in March.
The uniform policy can be summed up this way: only collared shirts may be worn, but the shirts may be of any of three district colors (black, white and gray) plus two additional colors that each school may choose. Khakis or jeans may be worn (shorts or long pants). So can some accessories, and a allowance for a variety of shoeware–for high school students–too long to list. (See the full policy below.)
There was a more substantial development: the school board had been reconsidering whether and to what extent middle and high school students would be required to wear their school identification cards. Right now the decision is left up to principals, who can themselves choose whether to require students to wear IDs or not. The board was considering making the ID policy more universal by incorporating it in the uniform policy. That’s what it approved Tuesday evening, thus making ID wearing a requirement at both high schools and both middle schools–and removing principals’ discretion from that equation.
And yes, there are medical and religious exemptions: “The Superintendent, in consultation with the principal, may waive the school uniform policy on a case-by-case basis for reasons such as, but not limited to, medical necessity or sincerely held religious belief, documented by a medical physician or religious leader.”
Only a handful of people spoke to the board about the policy, none with the sort of passions that had attended previous meetings on the matter. One individual made the odd analogy that American soldiers are “in foxholes” and in uniform in Afghanistan protecting Americans’ freedoms–to wear uniforms, though it’s more likely that those soldiers have been defending an Afghan culture that forbids its adult women to appear anywhere public without the mother of all uniforms: the head-to-toe burqa.