Atlantic City High drops school uniform policy

Atlantic City’s decision to get rid of its High School uniform policy has been met with mixed reviews — and surprise.
Many parents are just learning about the seemingly last-minute move just about a month before school is ready to begin.
The decision was just made Aug. 1, after Board of Education President Patricia Bailey called for a straw vote via email sent out July 30 by Board Secretary Angie Brown.
The matter couldn’t wait until the next board meeting, set for Aug. 20, because of parents possibly buying uniforms before then, Brown wrote.
But it’s not clear why the matter wasn’t brought up earlier.
Bailey did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Students may still opt to wear uniforms, and the policy will be replaced with a strict dress code, the email explained.
Guy Petinga, the father of two high school students, said he only found out two days ago, and does not agree with the policy.
He said instead they should have enforced the old policy, which often wasn’t followed anyway.
Indra Lynn Owens agrees that that policy wasn’t being followed by many, and that’s why she agrees with it being abolished.
“When we start talking about what’s in the best interest of our children, let’s be clear that now — without the demands of wearing a uniform that was policy that no one followed — there will be a decrease in suspensions and confrontation about the ‘uniform,’” she said.
But Atlantic City resident Stephen Weiss, whose daughter is a year away from going into high school, has a different view.
“They already segregate the poor with their lunch programs so yeah, why not make the less fortunate kids feel even worse,” Weiss said. “In a country where bullies get more rights than the victims it’s great to see Atlantic City BOE is still on the side of the aggressors.”
Owens, an educator and mental health professional, took issue with the notion that uniforms solve the bullying problem.
“Bullying hasn’t disappeared due to a ‘uniform policy’ in any school anywhere, and bullying isn’t going anywhere or intimidating behavior because there’s no character training happening at home first,” she said. “Children learn how to treat others from the values their taught at home first.”
While the email also said Atlantic City was the only county high school still with a uniform policy, Pleasantville does still have one. But they, too, are considering doing away with it, board member Jerome Page said.
“The time has come where we must treat high school students as young adults, like the many other school districts in the county,” he said.
But former Pleasantville BOE Vice President Joanne Famularo disagreed.
“Uniforms are very important,” she said. “Most jobs require a uniform and to wear it properly. Treat them like young adults and make them responsible.”
With three children in Pleasantville’s school system, Jameelah McNair hopes her town change its uniform policy.
“Do you know how much it will cost parents to dress these teenagers?”she asked.  “I’m not rich and I’m not poor. I work everyday, and if Pleasantville joined this move, I couldn’t afford it.”