Archive for Friday, April 29, 2016

Lawrence school district leaders steer away from outright ban of Confederate flag

Free State High School

Free State High School

April 29, 2016

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After a student petition gathered hundreds of signatures supporting a district policy banning the display of the Confederate flag, Lawrence school district leaders told students leading the effort that such a ban isn’t likely. Instead, members of the school board’s policy advisory committee said they would focus on making existing discrimination polices more encompassing.

“We need to take a stab at crafting the language of a policy that broadens our language to include symbols,” school board President Vanessa Sanburn told the students at a meeting Friday. “…It is written in a way that allows us to (tell students they can’t bring a flag to school), but to make it more explicit is a goal that we have and that we would feel comfortable recommending to the entire board.”

Sanburn is on the policy advisory committee along with board member Shannon Kimball and Dave Cunningham, director of human resources and legal services for the district. The committee met with the three Free State High School students — Abena Peasah, Seamus Ryan and Maame Britwum — who wrote and submitted the student petition to the board.

The petition followed an incident in January in which a Free State student flew a full-sized Confederate flag from his pickup truck that he parked on school grounds. Some students were upset by the flag, which flew from its makeshift flagpole for about a week before school administration told the student he could no longer display it because it was disrupting the learning environment. Part of the reason for requesting a ban was so that if another student were to bring a flag, another disruption wouldn’t have to occur before that student was told to take it down.

“It disrupted classes in classes where you wouldn’t expect it to be discussed, like foreign language classes and math classes,” Peasah said of the presence of the flag on school grounds. “It was kind of taking over and students were even talking about walking out, so I would say it definitely disturbed our environment and endangered our education.”

Sanburn said that including the display of hateful or discriminatory symbols in the discrimination policy could assure district teachers and administrators that they need not wait for disruptions to occur should a student display a hateful or discriminatory symbol, such as a Confederate flag, swastika or other symbol of white supremacy.

“I think as far as enforcement is concerned, we can view the Confederate flag as a hate message and ask for removal based on that,” Sanburn said.

Committee members told the students that broadening the district’s existing discrimination and harassment policy to include symbols could accomplish the same goal as an outright ban of the flag, and also minimize the risk of the district facing litigation for violating students’ freedom of expression. The discrimination policy currently bans written, verbal or physical discrimination and harassment. Cunningham said the committee could also consider changes to other policies, such as the bullying policy, to better address racial issues.

“I think there is some balances in there that the board might be able to strike to look at multiple policies,” he said.

The advisory committee will meet again May 3 to continue its discussion and begin drafting a policy.

Comments

Ken Hunt 1 year, 8 months ago

Really.....even with "Bleeding Kansas?" Don't they know how Lawrence suffered? Ugh.....

Bob Smith 1 year, 8 months ago

You're still filled with anger over something that happened more than 150 years ago? Learn to turn things loose.

Ken Hunt 1 year, 8 months ago

A flag is a powerful symbol. A hangman's noose, An Orange flag in Ireland, the Hammer and Sickle, Mao's Little Red Book are examples that provoke powerful images. The Confederate flag was and is a symbol of treason and secessionist desires. Many in our state fought against the evils represented by this flag. I do not think the that any agency of our government should turn a blind eye to that symbol that wrapped itself in owning other people. Yes, you are correct, we should move on. This flag is used as an instrument to remember the "Old Days." The culture represented by this symbol are waning and a more enlightened dynamic will prevail.

Paul R Getto 1 year, 8 months ago

We are symbolic apes and fighting words matter. Perspective and patience are also good.,

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 8 months ago

You still want to honor the traitors of more than 150 years ago? And those who used the flag for their racist actions, like lynchings?

Chris Anderson 1 year, 8 months ago

“We need to take a stab at crafting the language of a policy that broadens our language to include symbols,” school board President Vanessa Sanburn told the students at a meeting Friday. “…It is written in a way that allows us to (tell students they can’t bring a flag to school), but to make it more explicit is a goal that we have and that we would feel comfortable recommending to the entire board.”

Yes, by all means please work harder at the craft of language, Ms. Sanburn. Sheesh.

Paul R Getto 1 year, 8 months ago

Free speech is hard. Education helps, but environment can create kids who want to do this for attention or to impress Dad.

David Holroyd 1 year, 8 months ago

Turn the writing of a policy into a writing assignment for all English classes. That should keep the kiddies busy!

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 8 months ago

Banning things like a historic flag that some individuals get all bent out of shape over is the hallmark of fascist policy. No one is harmed, no one is the target of some stupid theory of discrimination, no one really gives a damn.

"Some students were upset by the flag", I am upset by seeing students an the way to class dressed like they are going to the swimming pool or beach. Were are these kids parents??

In my day, we would have been sent home to put on some clothes. Anyone bothered by this??

Hopefully someone will wake up and put this stupid and foolish issue to rest.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 8 months ago

It's not historic. It is still flown by white supremacy groups. It is part of our present.

Paul Beyer 1 year, 8 months ago

Why not ban all flags except the USA and State of Kansas flags? Others have no place on campus.

Bob Summers 1 year, 8 months ago

Why not ban all flags except the USA and State of Kansas flags? ...and the rainbow flag cannot be banned.

Michael Kort 1 year, 8 months ago

Actually, the banning of hateful or discriminatory symbols is a great idea towards simplifying the administering of those individuals, who would use various symbols to disrupt the schools purpose of learning, for the amusement of themselves .

That is a broader approach than just banning one flag, after months of that wasting the school boards time, which some devious person could just replace wIth another disruptive flag to get attention .

Bob Smith 1 year, 8 months ago

There are still people who believe that their personal interpretation of symbols has the gravitas of revealed truth.

Richard Aronoff 1 year, 8 months ago

There's something that's been missing form this ongoing debate. That is, exactly what are these students being taught about the Civil War?

As for "traitors" --- i think it's important to understand that before the Civil War many people would say, "the United States are." After the Civil War that became "the United States is."

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