By Elisabeth Harrison
Providence, R.I. – Hearings begin today in a legal challenge to a new mandatory uniform policy in Woonsocket schools. State officials hope to move quickly to resolve the dispute.
An officer from the state Department of Education will hear arguments in the case, which centers on the constitutionality of mandatory school uniforms. Woonsocket's policy requires students at all grade levels to wear black or khaki pants, and plain maroon or gray shirts.
The American Civil Liberties Union says that violates the free speech rights of students. Woonsocket school officials say they believe they have the right to require uniforms. And they say students can apply for a waiver from the new rules for reasons related to health, religion or appropriate free speech.
State education officials say they hope to move quickly through the hearing process. The outcome may affect students and parents preparations for the start school on September 1.