Districts: Oakland Board Approves Mandatory-Uniform Policy

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The Oakland, Calif., school board will require elementary and middle school students to wear uniforms to school, beginning in the fall.

The board unanimously approved the policy last month that will require the 39,000 K-8 students in the 51,000-student district to wear the uniforms.

The policy does not include high school students because those "students are more adamant about what they want to wear," Sherri Willis, a district spokeswoman, said last week.

Controversial Clothing Banned

Administrators at a Tennessee high school have banned the Confederate flag and Malcolm X symbols from students' clothing, following a fight last month between white and black students that led to 23 arrests.

A dress code for the Shelby County school district already bans certain clothing, but those symbols were specifically prohibited to help relieve tensions at Millington Central High School near Memphis.

School attendance returned to normal there last week--up from 40 percent the day after the Feb. 14 brawl, a district spokesman, James E. Hayslip, said.

Denver Dispute Deepens

Ethnic strife at a Denver middle school has the U.S. Justice Department standing ready to mediate, a federal official said last week.

The tensions at Horace Mann Middle School surfaced when Ruben Perez, the assistant principal, tried to suspend nearly 100 students last December before he himself was suspended. District officials transferred Mr. Perez to another middle school last month.

That controversy only laid bare existing tensions between Hispanics who live in the school's neighborhood and non-Hispanics who are bused in, said Leo Cardenas, the regional director of the Justice Department's community-relations service in Denver.

But Patti Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Denver public schools, said a split among teachers and parents over whether to back the school's principal was the more salient problem. Superintendent Irv Moskowitz has visited the school several times to try to restore good will, she said.

The Final Holdout

The Shelby County school board in central Kentucky was expected to vote this week on whether to forbid smoking in its buildings and thus relinquish its title as the state's last holdout to a federal ban.

Superintendent Leon Mooneyham has advised the board that it could lose $1.4 million in federal aid if it does not snuff out faculty smoking zones. Students in the district are already prohibited from smoking.

The issue is especially controversial because Shelby County is one of the leading tobacco markets in a state that is a top tobacco producer. And three tobacco farmers are among the school district's five board members.

Head-Lice Headaches

A tiny, blood-sucking mite is stirring up a big public-health problem for some Missouri districts.

Cases of head lice among the Springfield district's 24,393 students have increased substantially from last year.

Between September and January, school nurses excluded 1,245 students from school for head lice. Last year, the district reported 1,322 cases for the entire school year.

Local health officials said they could not pinpoint a cause for the increase.

"Not all school districts have nurses. But Springfield has a very, very proactive nursing program," said Henry Bengsch, the director of the Greene County health department. "It could be that they are detecting more cases."

Other districts in the state are also experiencing a difficult year with head lice, he added.

To fight the pests, Springfield's 31 school nurses hold health classes for students, help families clean their homes, and buy special shampoo for indigent families, said Jean Grabeel, the director of health services for the Springfield schools.

"It doesn't matter where you go or who you are," she said. "Head lice don't respect geography or socioeconomic conditions."

Six Schools for Sale

A Vermont city has decided to sell its six century-old elementary schools, ending a three-year-old controversy.

Several years ago, the Barre school district suggested closing the small schools and building a centralized, $9 million facility for its pre-kindergarten through 8th-grade students.

But some residents have resisted the end of the neighborhood school system and also questioned the proposed facility's proximity to a hazardous-waste site.

A year ago, the district secured a land-use permit for a site slightly south of the original choice.

Vol. 14, Issue 24

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