School uniform law left in limbo


THE State Government is resisting calls to resolve the legal limbo over compulsory school uniforms.

Ombudsman Fred Albietz raised the issue last year when he said state school principals were acting unlawfully by making students wear uniforms.

With Queensland's 460,000 students due to return to school next week, teachers and principals have been waiting for Education Minister Dean Wells to solve the problem.

But he is resisting calls to change the law, promising instead to make a statement to parliament which he is confident will be a solution.

Queensland Teachers Union Vice-President Julie-Ann McCullough said the union had been advised that legislation was needed to enforce compulsory uniforms. School communities could make policies but principals at present could do nothing if students decided to flout the rulings, she said.

Queensland Secondary Principals Association president Bernadette O'Rourke said legislation would "bury the issue" but Mr Wells' parliamentary statement would be "a big step" forward.

Mr Wells, who is seeking legal advice on the issue, said he was exploring options which could put an end to the uncertainty created by the Ombudsman's report without changing the law.

He is concerned that legislating on basic issues of school life will create further legal complications in running schools.

Although he is in favour of uniforms, the decision on whether they are compulsory A will remain up to individual school communities.

Principals would have to A take a commonsense approach and not harm the academic career or humiliate students who had valid reasons for not wearing uni- forms, he said.

Sunday Sun January 17, 1999 page 3

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