Complaints About School Uniform Store
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 • 10:33pm
PATERSON, NJ – Parents and education advocates say some city schools are requiring families to buy their children’s school uniforms at a store in Elmwood Park at prices that critics say are higher than what’s charged at Paterson discount stores.
“I’m appalled,’’ said Linda Reid, a city education activist and grandmother of a child who attends School 10. “I don’t think the district or the schools should put a stipulation on where people should go to get their uniforms.’’
“That should not be,’’ said school board member Errol Kerr.
The school district does not have a citywide policy requiring uniforms, and instead leaves the decision whether to have uniforms up to individual schools. The majority of city schools have adopted uniform requirements.
“They cannot force any parent to go to a specific store to buy their uniforms,’’ said board member Alex Mendez, who lead the push for the district to start having school uniforms. “The parents can buy their uniforms anywhere they want.’’
Paterson Public Schools spokeswoman Terry Corallo did not respond to request for the district’s input on the situation.
But Reid said School 10 and other city schools are telling parents they must get the uniforms from a store in Elmwood Park that she said charges $20 for a full gym uniform and $16 for a school shirt.
“That seems contrary to one of the reasons for doing this,’’ said board member Jonathan Hodges.
In advocating for school uniforms, city education officials said parents would save money by not having to provide their children “fashion show” outfits.
“As long as they’re color-coordinated, I think that should be acceptable,’’ said board member Manuel Martinez.
It was not clear what process individual schools used to pick the Elmwood Park store. There were no formal bids taken through the Board of Education. “I don’t understand that either,’’’ Hodges said when asked about the procurement process.
Martinez said the district could open itself up to scrutiny by send parents to a particular store without going through a bidding process.