Public schools embrace uniforms

Fashion free-spirits beware. Nearby Lake County public schools recently adopted a districtwide policy requiring all students to wear uniforms to school, joining Polk and Osceola counties as Central Florida districts looking for an academic and behavioral edge.

Brevard County School Board Vice Chairman Kneessy has taken notice and says she favors the idea of a school uniform policy.

“I have always supported a more restrictive dress code,” Kneessy said. “I think the benefits far outweigh any negatives.”

Lake County’s proposed uniform policy contains stricter guidelines for dress and would take out the faculty guesswork regarding what’s appropriate school wear and what’s not. The policy limits the lengths of pants, dresses and skirts for girls to past mid-thigh and prohibits accessories or outfits with offensive signs or slogans. It also requires students to wear pants of solid colors.

Kneessy said she views the policy as a step in the right direction, but warned students not to get the wrong idea.

“When people see the word ‘uniform,’ the assumption is that the district is proposing something similar to what you see in parochial private schools,” she said.  “The Lake and Osceola County policies do not propose that type of school uniform, but a more restrictive, uniform dress code.”

Sophomore Hannah Krasny said such a policy would be OK with her.

“I don’t really care,” she said. “It wouldn’t crush me. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just an outfit.”

Sophomore Sierra Purden, who attended St. Joseph Catholic School and wore uniforms for seven years, appeared to welcome such a policy change.

“It’s so much easier,” she said. “I don’t have to get up early to pick out an outfit. I don’t have to compare my outfit to someone else. And we all wear the same thing. It’s great.”

“Students would still have choices,” Kneessy said. “But they would be more limited and restrictive.”

Still, sophomore Patrick Furino resists the idea of a stricter dress code.

“I wore uniforms for 10 years,” sophomore Patrick Furoni said. “And I don’t want to go back.”

By Natalie Brown