Whittier's optional-uniform policy was part of a larger effort to increase attendance and improve student performance. The student attendance rate, which was one of the worst among district elementary schools four years ago, now is second highest in the district, a district spokesman said.
However, Marquez said that students from many low-income families wear hand-me-down clothing, and the cost of uniforms will be a problem for some families in the area.
"We will have to look for resources," she said.
Uniforms also are optional in elementary schools in Norwalk-La Mirada and Paramount districts.
Although Long Beach is the first district to require student uniforms, other Southeast-area districts forbid clothing and many other items related to gangs.
The Little Lake City School District, which serves parts of Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk, banned gang-related attire early last year. In the Whittier area, the Lowell Joint School District approved similar regulations last fall. In 1992, the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District expanded its dress code to ban gang-related attire.