Change on School Uniforms Questioned

Editor, News-Register:

Parents find it extremely disappointing that the Ohio County Board of Education rescinded the uniform policy for school personnel. What concerns parents is that the school employee uniform issue should only be viewed as a student and school safety issue. School employees should be required to wear uniforms and ID badges so they are readily, easily and obviously identified as school employees. This is necessary both for the prevention of our worst fears and identity and control in crisis situations. The actions of the Ohio County Board of Education at the July 21 board meeting made our schools and our kids less safe.

When this policy was adopted in 2012, the Board of Education and administration officials cited safety as the primary concern for the policy. Board Member Mallett supported it and was quoted as saying, “We have people who are out interacting with our students where there might not be adult supervision, a uniform is an identifying factor.” Also in 2012, after the adoption of the uniform policy, Ken Siburt, president of Ohio County School Service Personnel Association, publicly stated:

“I’m happy with the decision that was made on the uniforms. 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.”

What has changed between 2012 and 2014? Certainly not a concern for and focus on the safety of our schools and our children. Why is the Board of Education playing politics with the safety and protection of my children and all the children of Ohio County parents? The Board of Education likely would not have taken this irresponsible step if any board member or school administrator would have been a strong voice for parents and students at the July 21 board meeting and advocated vociferously for the safety of students. It is disappointing that one of the first acts of the new school board president was to make schools and children less safe. I take my hat off to any board member or school official willing to have the fortitude to change this ill-advised course.

David Delk