The hot potato has been tossed.

The debate over school uniforms or standardized dress for students in the Greenville Independent School District will now move to the board of trustees following the final meeting of an appointed committee.

Attendees of the Dec. 8 forum were encouraged to make their feelings known at the next GISD board meeting Dec. 19.

“Everyone, including students, are encouraged to cast a vote on the issue by speaking at the next board meeting,” moderator Rich Reneau said.

Panelists including trustees Duane May and Slack Brown, Greenville High School associate principal David Gish and New Horizons director Patrick Just conducted the final informational meeting at Lamar Elementary.

As at other meetings, audience members were required to submit their questions in writing, a stipulation that didn’t please those who wanted to make their concerns known.

“The idea is, we’re not the ones making the decision,” said Just. “We’re here to poll the community, but we’re not in a position to debate the facts. We don’t want to be antagonistic.”

Committee member Steve Mosby said requiring the questions be posed in writing meant “we avoid a lot of hoopla.”

Gish opened the meeting, emphasizing his contention that uniforms could increase safety in the schools.

“To me that’s the most important thing,” Gish said. “We want the ability to provide a safe environment. At the high school, it is hard to manage access to the building and this will help us identify people who are not supposed to be on campus.”

For the first time, the opinions of students and former students were heard at Lamar.

Reneau read a letter from the parent of a former GISD student who has since moved to Port Aransas, where standardized dress is required. The parent, district employee Rob Horn, said in the letter that his son was surprisingly in support of the dress requirements.

Two current students were also in attendance at the meeting. Elise Follett said she had yet to firmly make up her mind on the issue, but GHS senior Kortlan Porter,16, said he was against it.

“I disagree with it by a long shot,” Porter said. “Your individuality and desire to stand out, they’d be stripped away, even though they’re trying to say they wouldn’t.”

Porter said he would speak at the next GISD board meeting.

May said administrators at Forney ISD and Terrell ISD, both of which have instituted standardized dress, sang the policy’s praises.

“I’ve also talked to a couple of their campus officers, who said the standardized dress code has been all good,” May said.

Following several pointed questions from the audience, Just made a plea for trying the idea.

“We have some underperforming schools in GISD,” Just said. “Let’s try it, and if it doesn’t work, throw it out the window.”

Although the public can speak during a portion of each regular GISD board of trustees meeting, the issue will not actually be up for official consideration Dec. 19. Should the committee recommend the change, officials say adoption of the new policy would probably not come until February.

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