The Baltimore City school system has launched a campaign to raise $400,000 to help families afford school uniforms, interim CEO Tisha Edwards announced Tuesday.

"We all have the opportunity to make sure that every student has a uniform, and that it's never a barrier to them coming to school," Edwards said.


Edwards announced the campaign, which will be hosted by Combined Charities of Baltimore City, at the city school board meeting, following through on an idea she proposed this summer to help families afford school apparel.

Before she took her as post as interim CEO -- Edwards served as former city schools CEO Andres Alonso's chief of staff -- she convened a task force to explore school dress codes and found that students were inhibited by some schools' expensive and stringent uniform requirements.

But the move also came weeks after a local advocacy organization filed a federal lawsuit against the school district for policies they said exacerbated hardships for homeless students. You can read that story here.

The suit was filed by the Public Justice Center on behalf of three homeless families who said their students were denied federally mandated services such as transportation and were unfairly penalized because they couldn't afford uniforms.

One mother reported that her son was sent home for the first week of school because he couldn't afford the $150 uniform required at his school.

Edwards said that she was asking every employee in the school system -- the school system  apparently raises the most funds of any city agency in the Baltimore Combined Charities campaign -- to donate to the fund.

The charity number for the city schools uniform fund is 8721, she said.

More information about Combined Charities is available here.