GDOE: Students provided with uniforms but refused to wear them face discipline

CAMPUS: Inarajan Middle School's campus is seen in June in Inalåhan. David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

A student at Inarajan Middle School was punished for not wearing a school uniform to school.

Heading into this school year, the Guam Department of Education and the Guam Education Board reimplemented the district-wide uniform policy requiring all students to adhere to wearing a uniform, but at the same exempting students who couldn't afford to buy uniforms or didn't get a uniform voucher.

"GDOE has not updated its policy to penalize students who do not have uniforms. As you recall, the uniform requirement was reinstated by the board before the start of the school year,” Superintendent Jon Fernandez said.

On Friday, a student attending Inarajan Middle was placed on work detail for not wearing a school uniform. A few others have also been disciplined.

It turns out GDOE's uniform policy does not exempt students who have school uniforms but refuse to wear them.

“I spoke to the principal at IMS who has provided voucher support to families in need of uniforms. The complaint at IMS, according to the principal, involves only a small fraction of students, and it results from students who have uniforms but refuse to wear the uniforms. In some cases, the students will have the uniform but take it off and use another shirt instead,” Fernandez said.

“In situations like this, IMS has taken steps, such as work detail, to address insubordination. This allows students to remain on campus while the school works to support and enforce the uniform requirement,” Fernandez added.

At the beginning of the school year, schools provided federally funded vouchers to help students buy uniforms. Priority was given to students that are homeless or on federal assistance programs.

GDOE noted that data prior to the pandemic showed that about 1,000 students' families had difficulties paying for school uniforms. That number is expected to increase to about 5,000 students.

To provide for more uniforms, GDOE has set aside $2 million in Education Stabilization Funds and American Rescue Plan funds for vouchers that would provide school uniforms. This effort is still in the procurement process and needs to go out for bid.

GDOE welcomes any parent who wishes to bring this matter up with officials. Uniform issues can be addressed with the school principal or with Deputy Superintendent Erika Cruz and Fernandez. They can contact Fernandez’s office at jonfernandez@gdoe.net or 671-300-1547.

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