Dress codes aren't a black-and-white issue at Camellia Avenue Elementary School.
They're a blue-and-white issue.
The school of about 825 students began a uniform dress code last week, becoming only the second Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school to require uniforms. Charter school Vaughn Next Century Learning Center in Pacoima became the first in July.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday January 19, 1996 Valley Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Zones Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
SCHOOL UNIFORMS: A Jan. 10 story misstated the uniform policy at Camellia Avenue Elementary School in North Hollywood. Although state regulations allow parents to opt out of the uniform dress code, Camellia has 99% compliance with its new policy.
But the uniform requirement is not a punishment, said Assistant Principal Ysafi Diamond. Nor is it inflexible.
"Parents can choose to opt out of the uniform policy, according to state policies," Diamond said. "But, to date, no one has."
Camellia parents had lobbied for more than five years for the dress code, which excludes jeans and T-shirts, but leaves many options open--so long as the pants, skirts or culottes are blue and the collared shirt is white.
"It looks beautiful," Diamond said. "The dress code gives them some flexibility and some opportunity to express their own style."
The North Hollywood school offers about 10 "loaner" uniforms for students whose clothes are dirty or who cannot afford the clothing. But during the first week of the dress code, fewer than 1% of the students had to borrow uniforms.
Among the reasons listed for the school-wide change of policy is the savings parents can derive from handing uniforms down to other children. Parents and administrators also cite the fact that uniforms are distinct from gang-related regalia.
Parent Lourdes Sandoval of North Hollywood, who has two children enrolled at the school, said her children don't mind the dress code at all.
"They adore the clothes," Sandoval said. "They feel very comfortable in the uniforms."
Diamond foresees no problems with the blue-and-white dress code. "The students look sharp, and they know they look good," she said.