Public schools in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa soon will be able to require school uniforms to eliminate class distinctions, gang insignia and distractions that some teachers attribute to fashion fads.
Trustees of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District gave preliminary approval last week to a policy that lets each school opt for uniforms, if the principal and a majority of parents and teachers want it.
The new policy, scheduled for final approval Feb. 28, lets individual parents sign forms exempting their children from wearing uniforms. Children also will be allowed to wear Scout or youth sports uniforms on meeting or game days.
Schools adopting uniforms will be required to let parents and members of the community help choose the uniform, inform parents in the attendance area of the change six months in advance and provide uniforms for those who cannot afford them.
District spokeswoman Nadine Wilck said some schools in Costa Mesa asked the board to formulate the policy, which is required before a school can require uniforms.
A companion policy to be presented to the board in coming weeks would set out a districtwide dress code for students who do not wear uniforms. That policy is geared to curb gang-related and inappropriate clothes.
Board member Martha Fluor cautioned district officials to be careful of what items are prohibited.
"In Newport Beach, baggy pants aren't gang attire," she said. "They're just baggy pants."