By Elisabeth Harrison
Providence, R.I. – Woonsocket officials continue to defend a contested uniform policy for the city's school district and vow to uphold students' free speech rights.
City school officials say they will not enforce a new uniform policy for the first 30 days of the new school year in response to a legal challenge of the policy filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
State education officials held the first hearing in the matter this morning. Woonsocket School Department attorney Richard Ackerman assured state officials that students' rights will be protected.
"Woonsocket has always observed the rights to free speech of our students and certainly that will be the case here," he said. "Any legitimate exercise of free speech will be permitted."
ACLU attorneys say mandatory uniforms infringe on the free expression rights of students. They also allege that the requirement for parents to buy uniforms amounts to a fee for attending public school.