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Student appeals to board
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The Board of Education began its May monthly meeting by listening to a high school student express concern regarding the new high school uniform policy, slated to go into effect next school year.
Bradwell Institute student Brittney Wheale appealed to the board to reconsider their decision based on research and personal experience.
High schoolers were the only students exempted when the board approved the uniform policy.
"We thought that if we did good this year, like if our attitudes were better and we didn't cause so many bomb threats, that we wouldn't have uniforms," Wheale explained to the board.
She said Bradwell only had one bomb threat this school year. She also cited an Internet source who said students will find other differences among peers, even if uniforms are mandatory.
"If you don't wear a name brand tennis shoe, you will get picked on," Wheale said.
Board of Education chairwoman Lily Baker explained that the board first considered uniforms as a way to "increase student achievement," based on research they received on the subject.
"When uniforms are implemented into a school system, test scores and student achievement go up," Baker said. "Children are more into the education and less concerned about what each other is wearing or not wearing."
Uniform dress also was another way to minimize disciplinary measures, according to Baker.
It has made an impact, with middle schools this year reporting fewer discipline referrals than last year, according to Baker.
"What we're getting from our schools and our principals is that the discipline issues decreased and our student achievement went up," she said.
Based on what she has heard from other principals, Dr. Vicki Albritton, BI principal, said the policy should "have a positive effect on discipline and learning."
"I am hopeful that it will allow us to focus on the student's learning needs instead of what he or she is wearing that day."
More changes also are under way as the board finalized its decision to reduce schedules at the three middle schools from seven periods to five, allowing for longer instructional time.
The board further discussed amending the cell-phone policy to next year's student code of conduct after interim superintendent Harley Grove introduced recommendation reports from the middle and high school principals.
The current policy allows students to keep cell phones and any electronic devices off and in their lockers for after-school use only.
However, principals were unanimous in their opinions to prohibit cell phones from campuses all together.
Becky Carter agreed, calling a no cell phones policy "wonderful."
"I just think it's a distraction and it interferes with learning," Carter said.
Baker asserted the current policy was not working, explaining she witnessed a student's cell phone going off during a school visit to Lewis Frasier.
"The issue here is that they're abusing the privilege and their using the phones in classroom and it's interrupting instructional time," Baker said.
Since the written policy only prohibits cell-phone use, the board will work on phrasing that specifically prohibits cell-phone possession on school campuses.
According to Baker, "stiff" punishments will be in place for students who violate the policy.
Although the board decided to prohibit cell phones from school campuses, it will count the meeting as the new policy's first reading.

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