By Jean Lotus
Khaki pants will replace droopy boxer-displaying trousers, and polo shirts will take the place of spaghetti-strap tops next year at Proviso Township's three high schools come the first day of school, August 18.
Students at Proviso East and West and Proviso Math and Science Academy will be required to wear uniforms, the board decided, changing the district dress code to enforce the policy.
The change was crafted by District 209's Student Uniform Ad-Hoc Committee after an OK back at the Nov. 12 board meeting. The committee conducted focus groups at all three high schools, and more than 500 students participated. More than 2,400 "stakeholders" responded to the district's online survey about the uniform issue.
Members of the advisory committee included Supt. Nettie Collins-Hart, administrator Daniel Johnson, Curriculum Director Kim Echols, Publicity Director Roberto Daniel, assistant principals from all three high schools, teachers and deans. Three students each from Proviso East and West served on the committee, as well as two students from PMSA.
Starting in August, students will wear uniforms on all school days, with certain exceptions. Monthly out-of-uniform days, spirit days, and cohort days out of uniform (for example, Juniors Out of Uniform Day, etc.) will break up the monotony.
The uniform will consist of a long- or short-sleeve knit polo shirt without logo. Acceptable polo colors are black, white or the school colors (blue for East, orange for West and purple for PMSA).
Girls may wear a plain khaki skirt, the hem of which, when worn from the waist, reaches to the knees.
Girls or boys may wear khaki shorts with flat fronts. Cargo shorts are not permitted. Shorts must be worn at the waist — no sagging, no more than four pockets permitted. A black or brown belt is required. The hem of the students' shorts must extend lower than the student's fingertips when held at the waist and extended.
Male and female students may wear plain khaki trousers with flat or pleated fronts. Cargo pants, skinny jeans, and skinny pants are not permitted. A brown or black belt is required. Leggings and jeggings are not allowed to be worn as pants. The policy would also ban hats, caps, bandanas, jackets and hoodies during the school day. These items must be kept in students' lockers during school.
Proviso students don't have to look far to find other public high school districts with uniforms. Students at Morton High School District 201 in Berwyn and Cicero have worn white polos and khaki pants since 2009. The district made the change to combat perceptions of gang-affiliated clothing and colors, and students have adapted.
The students are free to wear shoes of their choice, as stipulated in the dress code; house slippers and flip-flops are not allowed.
Students who already wear an NJROTC uniform to school are exempt from the new rules, as are athletes on dress-up or jersey days.
At principals' discretion, out-of-uniform days may be used as an incentive the first school day of each month. If targets for academics, attendance and other performance goals are met, principals may declare on "out of uniform" day. Building principals may also grant out-of-uniform days on "spirit days." If appropriate gear is worn, out-of-uniform may take place every Friday and during Homecoming week, according to the principals' choice.
Students who disregard the uniform policy will be cited for "dress code violations" which increase progressively with recurring violations.