BOE Passes New Uniform Requirement

OHIO COUNTY – Some employees of Ohio County Schools will now be required to wear a uniform to work to comply with a debated uniform policy that was approved by a 4-1 vote at the board of education meeting Wednesday at Wheeling Park High School.

Board members James Jorden, Christine Carder, Sarah Koegler and Shane Mallett voted “yes” on the policy while board member Gary Kestner voted “no.” Kestner could not be reached for comment on his decision following the meeting.

The uniform policy, Policy 4024, will require all child nutrition, custodial, facilities and maintenance and transportation employees of Ohio County Schools to wear a designated shirt and pants to work. Until now, employees have had access to uniforms, but they have not been required to wear them. The board has cited safety concerns as the primary reason driving the policy.

Previously, school employees had voiced concerns about a portion of the policy that defined disciplinary actions for employees who failed to wear the uniform. In response, the board altered the policy to list the disciplinary actions based on an employee’s number of offenses.

“We actually listed the offenses – what happens after the first offense, what happens after the second offense. As our board stated at the October meeting, we do not wish to terminate anyone. We work with our employees and have not had any problems with our transportation department, who have been underneath a uniform policy for the past years,” Superintendent Dianna Vargo said. “We are very appreciative of the remarks that were made. We did go back and made the adjustments to the policy and listed the offenses so it was part of their request.”

The policy states an employee is not eligible for termination until his or her sixth offense for failing to wear a uniform.

“I’m happy with the decision that was made on the uniforms,” Ken Siburt, president of Ohio County School Service Personnel Association, said. “We feel that the board has gone above and beyond in setting up procedures to address issues if people don’t have uniforms. Also, if somebody decides not to wear the uniform, it’s well-defined on the steps that are taken for remedying that situation. There’s not a bad side at all, as long as you are wearing the uniform you are fine.”

The Ohio County Board of Education will hold its next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 26 at the board office in Elm Grove.