MSD scraps uniform plan
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:49 AM
MARYSVILLE Uniforms are out at the Marysville School District, and D is back in.
An attempt to institute a mandatory dress code at Marysville Junior High School was thwarted by objections from members of the Tulalip Tribes last month, who didnt want their middle school singled out for the plan. And now the same idea for all middle schools is dead after a school board workshop on April 30.
A committee of parents and students presented the original plan for polo shirts and khaki slacks, called specific dress in hopes it would increase academic achievement and reduce discipline problems. But Tribal members wanted the plan in effect at the districts other middle schools, Cedarcrest, Marysville and 10th Street. Staff at those first two schools were in favor of the idea by large margins, if not to the degree the junior high school was, but at 10th Street the idea tanked among teachers.
It was a pretty strong feeling from staff, said Judy Albertson, principal at Marysville Junior High School. A committee of staff and parents from her school visited others that had uniform policies and had great results. Staff at other middle schools had not done the same research or come to the same conclusions, and support for uniforms there was not as high as at the junior high school.
And so at the informal workshop session April 30 the board felt they didnt want to pursue the matter and Albertson said she would drop the matter. The board does not formally vote at workshops but in discussions it was clear the matter would not get the support of the board.
But they discussed the merits of uniforms in schools at length. Some board members felt it would keep students safer as intruders could be readily identified, but other said that was a ruse and that polo shirts could not keep weapons from a school campus. Members were at times bitterly split on the issue. District One director Don Hatch said the Tulalip Tribes were 110 percent against the idea and that uniforms would stigmatize tribal students, who all attend the junior high school.
Right now they are totally against it, said Hatch, a Tulalip member who spent 26 years on the tribal board of directors.
He said uniforms brought back memories of the boarding school where tribal members were forced to wear uniforms. Perhaps in future generations or perhaps next year it would be possible, but not now, Hatch said.
But member Darci Becker said uniforms could alleviate a lot of the problems teachers and staff have to deal with, such as inappropriate attire or obscene messages on clothing, and reduce the social stratification of cliques. She said many middle school girls dress far too risque for her tastes and values.
Its not acceptable and I cant believe weve allowed it to progress as far as we have, Becker said. It is a social experience but thats not what school is for its for learning.
Hatch and Becker represented the tips of the issue and debated each other indirectly, while board president Michael Kundu, a big supporter of uniforms, tried to sound out directors Sherri Crenshaw and Cindy Erickson.
I realize that this is going to be a polarizing issue, Kundu said.
Much of the discussion centered on whether uniforms could stop a school shooting. Crenshaw agreed with Hatch that a fence is needed at some campuses, especially the junior high, open on all sides to downtown pedestrians. Maybe more cameras, keycards or fences are the solution, but not uniforms.
I dont see how it can make a difference, said Erickson.
In other business the board discussed whether the Marysville Arts & Technology High School could keep its current policy of not issuing Ds on student report cards. The school has been urging students to at least get a C or take the class over until they get it right and just this year the district realized the school doesnt have that authority under board policy. The alternative high school Marysville Mountain View has a similar, if not tougher policy, and that will likely stay. But members voted on a consensus chart and three members were in favor of making A&T issue Ds, despite vocal opposition from students and teachers.
The board directed superintendent Larry Nyland to draft the required legislation for them to consider at a future board meeting.
A&T principal Frank Redmon said the decision wont go over well at his school.