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Only handful disobey uniform policy

The Polk County superintendent wants those who don't comply prosecuted.

Polk County school officials said Tuesday they were pleased that most students complied with the new uniform policy on the first day of the new school year.

Only 26 students out of 66,090 in attendance Monday were kept out of class for refusing to wear the outfits mandated by the School District for elementary and middle school students.

"Ultimately, the size of the opposition wasn't as large as people may have thought," said Frances McMichael, a spokeswoman for the Polk County schools. "There are a lot of people who may not agree with the policy, but when it came down to it they decided to support a school rule and then change it through regulatory channels."

Polk is among the first public school districts in the country to make uniforms mandatory. The uniform dress code was optional last year.

Shirts worn by students must be white or navy with a collar and must be tucked in. Schools can add other shirt colors and their own school T-shirts.

Students can only wear dark blue, black or khaki pants, shorts, skirts or jumpers. The fabrics must be twill, corduroy or denim. Sweat pants are forbidden and belts are required if the pants have belt loops. Baggy pants that are slipping off a student's waist won't be allowed.

The uniform policy applies to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Many parents had vowed to disobey the new policy.

"We have wonderful compliance with school uniforms," Superintendent Glenn Reynolds said.

Reynolds has said he would like to see parents who won't comply prosecuted.

But some are standing firm against uniforms.

Several opponents planned to be at a School Board meeting Tuesday night to voice their opposition. And opponents have scheduled a meeting for next week to sign parents up as plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the policy.

"There's a time when civil disobedience is okay," said Darlene Williams, a member of the Parental Action Committee, an anti-uniform group that has drawn about 200 people to its rallies.