Survey says ... Sandusky parents and teachers are happy with the school district's new uniform policy. The students are not.
Sandusky High School teacher Jennifer Friend and Diversified Health Occupations instructor Patricia McKenna surveyed students, parents and faculty members about the uniforms as part of their master's degree coursework.
"We were ambitious with them -- 15 questions each," Friend said. "We set out to see if the implementation of uniforms was wise or if it has been disruptive."
They sent out 430 surveys, getting back 87 of 99 faculty surveys and 165 of about 170 student surveys, McKenna said.
"We sent home surveys for the parents with the students," she said. "We only got about 15 of those back, and we personally interviewed four parents."
Teachers and parents overwhelmingly approved of the uniforms; students overwhelmingly preferred the previous dress code policy.
Student concerns included: not being able to express individual style, dirty uniforms being worn to school and the faculty being too strict about socks, belts and buttons.
Delonne Baker, 17, said he doesn't like the uniforms and hates having to wear the same thing every day.
Principal Dan Poggiali called the student response a "teenage protest on paper" and predicted that in a few years uniforms will be the norm.
"A large number of kids in the school now got to wear whatever they wanted for a year or more," he said.
"But soon, there'll be more of a buy-in because students will be coming in already having worn uniforms in the junior high."
A few students agreed that financially uniforms aren't a bad route.
"The uniforms are OK, not as bad as I thought they would be," Devon James, 17, said. "I didn't have to spend a lot on school clothes this year."
Prior to implementing the uniform policy, many scoffed at the idea the uniforms would improve student behavior. But the numbers appear to say otherwise.
Compared to last October, the high school has had 40 percent fewer truancies, 59 percent fewer removals from class and 37 percent fewer cases of inappropriate conduct.
"I truly believe many of the children who were truant to school didn't want to come to school because of many days of negativity about what they were wearing," board president Faith Denslow said.
Friend said children who stood out because of their clothing now have the opportunity to blend in.
"I had a girl in class last year who wore the same clothes every day," she said. "She was clean, but they were the same clothes. Now students are a little more empowered, at ease and more comfy at school because everyone is wearing the same thing."
Principal Dan Poggiali said school officials are being flexible with students who have limited financial means.
"You can't just put the hammer down and send them home because they could only afford a few pairs of pants and weren't able to get to the laundry mat," he said. "There are some things we'll do to make the process easier."
Denslow said the policy allows administrators to consider the financial state of the district's families.
"We need to remember on a daily basis what kids are coming from," Friend said. "Many are lower income and can't afford the burden of new clothes every year."
Friend said parents not only approve of the uniforms, but they gush about how well dressed and professional the students look.
"The kids look great," said Tanya Frank, a mother of four. "This was (the district's) best idea yet."
Parents like Tasha Mullen said shopping is much easier -- and less expensive.
"You know how them kids can be," she said. "If you're not wearing American Eagle, you get teased. This works out the best for everyone because it's harder to tell who's wearing expensive stuff and who's not."
Board member King Baer is also pleased with the changes the uniforms have brought about.
"Instead of negative attention we're getting positive attention," board member King Baer said. "The kids are being treated better by the public. There's less judging by appearance. Our perception is changing all over."
Student behavioral contrasts
October 2006 vs. October 2007
Inappropriate conduct -- 27 vs. 10
Insubordination -- 23 vs. 21
Removal from class -- 113 vs. 67
Skip Saturday school -- 109 vs. 49
Truancy -- 86 vs. 34
Total Infractions -- 690 vs. 428