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Topics : Education: Parents Fight Uniform Policy

March 31, 1994|TED JOHNSON

Parents on Catalina Island are fighting a Long Beach Unified School District policy that will require elementary and middle school students to wear uniforms next year.

On the mainland, administrators hope the policy will help curb gang problems by limiting gang attire. But the 610-student Avalon schools, isolated from the rest of the district, do not have the same difficulties.

"We don't have a lot of the problems that the mainland schools have," said travel agency owner Mike Lavelle, who has three children in school. He and other parents have launched a petition drive expressing dismay at the districtwide policy, which on Avalon will also include high school students because its campus is combined with other grades.

"I object to the dictatorial way in which Long Beach Unified decided to administer this thing," Lavelle said. Uniforms "are a decision that should be left to the parents."

School safety, however, is not the only intent of the policy, said Avalon Principal Mark Ur.

With uniforms, students "are not teased or forced into competing buying stylish brands," he said. "It gives students more self-esteem."

He also said that uniforms might instill more of a work ethic because "it gives (students) the feeling that they are putting on their work clothes."

A school committee will establish guidelines for the new uniforms, which might include an iron-on patch with the school's emblem, Ur said.

A town hall meeting is planned on April 19 to discuss the policy.

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