District Officials Consider Uniforms in High Schools to Cut Gang Pressure

Article excerpt

Student uniforms may be required or encouraged at the Normandy School District's secondary schools in the near future. No public schools in the metropolitan area currently require uniforms for secondary students.

A committee representing the school community will be named to study and advise the board on uniforms. At last week's board meeting, member Rita Days introduced the issue. "We should be proactive in this area," she said.

Long associated with religious schools, uniforms have been introduced into many public schools in recent years. Primarily this has happened in areas where gang activity has flourished or where street clothes are deemed to be hindering a positive learning environment, officials say.

Pershing Elementary School in the adjacent University City School District has had student uniforms for two years. Students are not required to wear them, but 85 percent of students do so, a district spokeswoman said.

The same policy has been instituted in 12 St. Louis elementary schools, beginning this semester.

Parents and guardians are provided with a list of sources for the shirts, pants, blouses, jumpers and footwear that comprise the standard of dress.

Normandy Superintendent Bruce Smith said uniforms had proven to be a good idea in some school districts. He agreed with Days' observation that students can rely on the uniform policy to resist the demands of gang recruiters.

"We have 21 communities in the district and there is pressure to wear certain colors or items to show that one is not a member of the outside gang. …


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