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Wisconsin district to consider banning Confederate flag

TOMAH, Wis. (AP) — Some students and school officials in a western Wisconsin district are calling for a ban on displays of the Confederate flag.

The Tomah Area School District’s board plans to issue a decision on the issue on Feb. 4, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

Tomah High School Principal Robert Joyce said that a student wearing clothing displaying the Confederate flag has caused disruptions at the school.

“We’ve had some discipline issues that have come about from this,” he said. “It disrupts the learning process in general.”

Several non-white parents and the district’s Local Indian Education Committee have expressed concerns about the Confederacy symbol, said Superintendent Cindy Zahrte.

“We feel there is enough evidence that this is a distraction in our school,” Zahrte said. “We have a protected class of individuals who are saying they feel intimidated and threatened when that symbol is worn. It is our job as a school district to create a safe learning environment for every single child.”

The Tomah High School seniors Josh Holness and Lucy Gordon recently addressed the school board, calling the flag a symbol of white supremacy and racism. Gordon added that she believes the Confederate flag should be added to the school dress code’s list of prohibited images that allude to derogatory terms.

Junior Brett Larkin said banning the flag would violate free speech, though he finds it “ignorant to display (the flag).”

The school board member John McMullen said he’ll likely vote to ban the symbol.

“I’m largely persuaded by the staff and the parents who are concerned about safety in our schools and the sense that we encourage inclusiveness,” McMullen said. “It has now compromised our learning environment.”

One comment

  1. It is probably offensive to some students and I think students would be wise to be considerate of others and not wear such clothing but I think free speech under the Constitution will trump the ban. I represented members of the Outlaws Milwaukee motorcycle club denied entry to Summerfest for wearing their club insignia clothing and after we sued the city the policy was dropped on first amendment ground because Summerfest is on public property.

    My review of cases similar to mine ended with the same result for individuals on public property. I must admit I did not see a case dealing with the validity of school dress codes.

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