DeSoto ISD Will Require Uniforms In 2023-2024 School Year

DeSoto ISD Building
Photo by Kristin Barclay

Parents Have Questions & Concerns About Uniforms For DeSoto ISD

DeSoto – The DeSoto ISD school board discussed school uniforms at its most recent board meeting. Parents are discussing the issue and expressing their concerns on Facebook after some say they received a survey on the subject.

It has also been said the ISD is not getting the message to all parents and many parents are not able to attend school board meetings.

It seemed the Facebook consensus was parents are not in favor of the uniforms; however it also gave the impression that perhaps parents had more questions than answers and felt they had not been informed.

The ISD, while thinking they had communicated the uniform position clearly, had not done so in such a way that it was clearly understood by many parents.

When contacting the district to ask about the uniform policy, the answer was that the topic was discussed at the board meeting, but additional details were not provided.

When further pressed, Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones, DeSoto ISD Chief Communications Officer,  replied in an email “Uniforms will apply to all grades. The decision to transition to uniforms has been communicated throughout the year in various spaces and was affirmed during Monday’s presentation to the board.”

It was unclear how this had been communicated throughout the year and the ISD school board meeting presentation did not answer that question.

The meeting clarified that a survey had been sent out “to a small group with a quick turnaround to begin the process of exploring the options.”

It was not communicated how this small group was chosen. Executive Director Shon Joseph, who presented the overview at the board meeting, did state that a more comprehensive survey will be released in the coming weeks. Additionally he said a final decision on the student dress standards will be decided on by May 1.

Joseph’s presentation noted some considerations included “passionate arguments on both sides of the issue.”

The presentation indicated a student dress code has received increased attention in communities and it has been shown this can create an “environment for success.”  This was noted and pointed out that a dress code helps students focus, decreases disruption, and helps to grow a sense of community.

Considerations presented at the meeting were that a well-defined student dress code promotes the serious academic environment the district would like to accomplish.

Joseph said student achievement has been studied from many angles, but most of the research has stressed that students with a well-defined dress code achieve higher success rates.

There have also been discussions that dress codes do not allow for a student’s individual expressions, however, the district’s argument is that a dress code sets the parameters for that expression.

During the board meeting, Desoto Place 2 ISD Trustee Chasiti McKissic said she wanted the board to be “very careful that we are not restrictive to parents who are buying clothes or uniforms that would hinder a student from feeling welcome and belonging to their environment because of so much restriction.”

DeSoto Place 7 ISD Trustee Traci McNairy said she wanted to make sure the district is steadfast with the date of May 1, “I am concerned about the parents and the budgets,” she added.

Place 6 DeAndrea Fleming was concerned about children identifying with a gender and said, “Children are intentional of who they are and it is important they are allowed to choose that.”

She was concerned about genderizing the students because she wants to make sure they are where they are.

Joseph said the comprehensive survey will have all gender references removed.

Superintendent Rodgers Explains Why She Feels Uniforms Are Necessary

In the Facebook posts regarding the uniform discussion DeSoto Superintendent Usamah Rodgers responded to parents commenting “I debated with myself about joining the discussion regarding school uniforms. However, I feel it’s important to tell you WHY uniforms from my perspective as superintendent of schools. It’s simple … I spent a day serving as a substitute teacher. Teachers have the awesome responsibility to educate our students. Unfortunately, as a substitute teacher, I spent a lot of time trying to enforce the dress code.

Many people say all we have to do is enforce the dress code. That’s difficult when students comply in your presence and switch clothing, shoes, etc. when they walk past you. Having to constantly remind students to comply with the dress code was draining.
My goal as superintendent is to remove barriers so our students and staff can achieve success. So, we are asking for input about the types of uniforms not if we are moving to uniforms because our teachers deserve my support and assistance. Additionally, we have student organizations, activities, and clubs that provide opportunities for students to express themselves creatively and artistically.”

An update to the dress code will be given in April, however, there was no discussion as to whether parents will have any say in what the district decides.

Note: DeSoto ISD maintained a uniform-based dress code from roughly 2014 to 2018 before the dress code was relaxed.