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Uniforms option OK'd for Frederick County schools

December 06, 1996

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - Individual schools in Frederick County can require student uniforms under a new rule.

Parents of at least 75 percent of a school's students would have to vote for uniforms under the policy, and they could choose to make them mandatory or voluntary under the policy.

Even in the case of mandatory uniforms, parents who "absolutely disagree" with the policy can get exemptions for their children, David Markoe, assistant superintendent for instruction, said Thursday.

He said the policy is flexible because "our board of education felt that each school community is kind of unique unto itself."

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The policy, approved 4-to-3 Wednesday, applies to all elementary, middle and high schools. It will take effect when the next semester begins on Jan. 24, Markoe said.

Board members had debated dress codes for more than a year. President James Cartlidge, a uniform proponent, said he hoped the policy would lead to higher scores on academic assessment tests.

He said uniforms would allow students to focus more on lessons and less on their classmates' appearance. He suggested uniforms of khaki trousers and collared shirts, although the dress code allows principals to choose the appropriate attire.

"I'm not in favor of a coat and tie, that'll never fly," Cartlidge said. "Just something that would eliminate the recognizable differences between the haves and the have-nots."

Board member Anne Hooper voted against the policy after failing to persuade the board that students should be allowed to vote on uniforms.

"I don't see a need to do something that, at best, might peripherally improve performance," she said.

Three school principals objected to the policy, citing the cost to families and the potential for student rebellion.

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