Superintendent advises against school uniforms

Sunnyside Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole recommended that the district not adopt a school uniform policy after visiting five local districts with such policies.

Cole visited Wahluke, Granger, Mabton, Grandview and Union Gap school districts and toured buildings with administrators to learn about each district’s policy and how it was enforced.

Cole said that, overall, the costs of enforcing the policies from an administrative standpoint outweighed the benefits, particularly after the policies were in effect for several years.

He told the council that none of the districts had uniforms. Instead, the policies were “enhanced dress codes” that generally required a certain type of shirt, usually a polo shirt of a particular color.

Cole said compliance was a problem in all districts, and many students simply wore outerwear, such as sweaters or jackets, over the required clothing. Although buying clothing was easier and cheaper for parents, constant monitoring is required from administration.

Cole said academic performance did not appear to be improved by the dress codes, but discipline issues around dress decreased, according to the districts.

In addition, most of the dress codes were adopted to prevent gang wear, but as time went on students adapted with other gang signs.

Director Dylan Gardner asked if Sunnyside has compliance with its existing dress code. Cole said it does not.

The school board asked Cole to talk with principals and return in two months with a final recommendation.

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