Antioch schools consider mandatory uniforms

February 24, 2010 6:27:54 PM PST
The Antioch School Board will hear a plan to make uniforms mandatory for kids. If the board moves ahead, Antioch would become the first public school district in the East Bay to require uniforms in high school.

"This is who I am," says Deer Valley senior Carolyn Johnson.

Johnson says telling kids what they have to wear limits their freedom of expression.

"Making me wear a uniform to school? Come on now, that's not expressing how I would like to come to school. That's not me coming to school comfortable enough to sit in a class for 90 minutes," says Johnson.

The Antioch School Board is considering whether to create a district-wide uniform policy that would include high school students. There is already a dress code, which prohibits exposed mid-sections and pants that are too baggy.

"Discipline begins with dress and enforcing it seems to be a problem. We wouldn't be in this spot if the dress code could be enforced," says parent Denise Sterud.

The uniform proposal comes amid concerns about gang activity in the higher grades. Last year, a 16-year-old Deer Valley student was shot near the school.

As it is now, most of Antioch's middle and elementary schools require uniforms that include collared shirts and khaki or dark pants. There are no uniforms at Jack London Elementary, where the PTA is hosting a uniform fashion show Thursday night.

"I think it's going to be good, so people won't dress up inappropriately," says 5th grader Emma Cantor.

"I just like the clothes that I wear right now. I just think they're, not hip, but I just like the way I wear them," says 5th grader Chuckie Collins.

Pancho Cantor, a 3rd grader, says he is not willing to give up the hat.

"Sometimes they won't let kids have colored jackets on. I don't know if that's good or bad," says school aide Karin Bentley.

Deer Valley senior Ricky Binnace does not see how uniforms will stop violence.

"Uniforms don't make the schools safer. It's the students," says Binnace.

If the school board does approve the new uniform policy, it would go into effect next school year.