'Opt Out' policy added to MPS uniform code

Posted by Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The mandatory uniform policy is still very much in effect for Montgomery Public Schools.  However, there is a major change to the code.

Tuesday, the Montgomery County Board of Education met to tweak the regulation, adding a measure allowing families in very specific situations to opt out.

"...if a sincerely held religious belief, disability, medical condition, financial hardship, or other extenuating circumstance prevents the child from being in uniform," explained MPS' Lewis Washington at the meeting.

Standard procedure would have placed the vote two weeks after the beginning of the school year, but members suspended the rules of the board and immediately adopted the changes.

"Voting on an 'opt out' policy would give the principals and certainly the parents the information they need to make wise decisions," said board member Charlotte Meadows.

Of course, parents and their kids are already in a back-to-school shopping shuffle.

"We debated it in our Forensics class for about a week," said L.A.M.P. senior Rachel Moore, who nearly escaped her school career without having to wear a uniform.

Also, uniform store associates are staying busy as the first school day nears.

"We have all our regular customers with the private schools, but now we have public school families as well coming in," explained Haley Bargery, an employee at Buckhead Uniforms in Montgomery.

Despite the changes to the policy, workers are still getting ready for a last minute rush.

"We've definitely taken on some extra staff, and just really trying to prepare for getting people what they need," Bargery said.

According to MPS, families who meet the criteria must apply with the system's Student Support Services office for a waiver to the policy.  Each waiver will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Still, that doesn't necessarily mean all children meeting the criteria won't be required to wear a uniform.

MPS Superintendent Barbara Thompson tells WSFA 12 News there are countless assistance programs for low-income families to help parents keep their kids up to code.

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