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Probe: March 7, 2002

March 07, 2002

QUESTION: When my son had no clean uniform pants to wear to school, I called the school and asked if he could wear blue jeans. I explained that the jeans were not baggy or anything like that and that he would be wearing them for just that one day. The school told me if he wore them they would send him home.

Are the uniforms mandatory? Is it fair to children who have to stay home because the material is different than the material in the uniform pants? My mother said there's supposed to be a new law saying if schools require children to wear uniforms, the schools must provide the uniforms. Could you shed some light on this subject? — Mom, El Centro

That's not a new law. It's an old law. It came up 20 years ago when Norman Pliscou challenged the Holtville school district on its policy requiring Holtville High students to wear Viking green gym clothes for physical education.

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The law said schools may "encourage" students to wear gym clothes or uniforms but if they "required" a specific type, the school must provide them.

You will notice that all school districts with uniform policies have a provision allowing parents to opt out of the policy by signing a "waiver" to exempt their child.

What you could have done was take your child to school and signed the waiver opting out. Most, if not all, parents like the uniform policy. But we assume you could sign a waiver to apply only on those days when there are no clean uniforms.

QUESTION: I am a truck driver who sometimes works all night. When I get home all I want to do is sleep. The problem is there are two daycare homes near my home and the noise level gets out of hand.

I checked with an attorney who told me it violates a Calexico city ordinance to put two daycare homes within 300 feet of each other.

Well, there is one on Zapata Street and directly behind it is a second one, making the two daycare homes back to back. Can you talk to someone in the city to look into this? They never return my calls. — Groggy Trucker, Calexico

Why don't you buy some ear plugs, because the deck is stacked against you on this issue, or learn to love the sound of little kids whooping it up?

State law sets the standards and preempts local regulations for child-care facilities. It leans on the side of kids. The state's goal is to foster good child care in a family-like setting.

There are two kinds of daycare homes, "small" ones for six or fewer kids, and "large" ones for centers with seven to 12 youngsters. The small ones are exempt from zoning regulations.

A city may require conditional-use permits for the large ones. It cannot deny the permit unless it can come up with a compelling reason to deny it.

When a care provider applies to put a "large" center in a neighborhood, the city planner conducts a public hearing and notifies residents within 300 feet (about a block), according to Calexico Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa. If nobody objects, the permit is usually granted, he said.

It's unlikely the city would close a center that had been granted a conditional-use permit.

QUESTION: Now that the election is over, do you think the candidates will be as quick to take their signs down as they were to put them up? — Sign-hater, Brawley

No.

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