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Bloomington North Bans Confederate Flags From Campus
Updated October 27, 2016 8:13 AM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - Bloomington High School North took swift action Wednesday to ban the Confederate flag from its campus after three students came to school wearing Confederate Flags as capes.

Students complained to administrators early in the day about classmates wearing Confederate flags draped over their shoulders like capes, along with T-shirts and hats that bore the flag. A crowd of about 50 students, parents and educators gathered outside the MCCSC administration building later in the day to meet with Superintendent Judy DeMuth saying the demonstration was offensive and targeted minorities making them feel physically unsafe and afraid to go to school.

Some say the teens wearing the flags were hurling racial and homophobic slurs to them.

School administration says they could not force the students to remove the flags because of a Supreme Court case, Tinker vs. Des Moines, which establishes a student's right to free speech at a public school.

But one part of the Tinker law says a school may censor a student if administration can prove the speech caused a disturbance to learning, which principal Jeffry Henderson later deemed was the case. He then officially banned the flag from appearing on personal items at the school or school events and sent a letter to parents alerting the of his decision.

Both Bloomington High School South and Edgewood High School have previously banned the flag as part of their dress code.

It's not clear what repercussions students will suffer if they violate the mandate. At both Edgewood and South, students who come to school wearing inappropriate or prohibited clothing are required to change or correct the item and, if unable or unwilling to do so, are held from class or sent home to change.

The following is the letter sent home with students:

Dear Parent/Guardian,

The safety and wellbeing of all of our students is always at the forefront of everything we do as a school.

Recently, a few students have chosen to wear confederate flags draped over their backs like a cape. This has caused several of our students to feel unsafe.

As an educational institution, one of the things we focus on is teaching tolerance for opposing points of view and civil discourse surrounding controversial issues. Balancing the first amendment rights of all individuals in a democracy can be a challenging task. Doing that with teenagers, can prove to be even more challenging.

The Supreme Court Case Tinker vs. Des Moines established the litmus test when schools have the right to limit students' expression. That case established the standard that when students' actions cause substantial disruption to the educational environment, the school can intervene and limit the students' expression.

Throughout the day, this issue has evolved into one that has created a substantial disruption to the educational environment. As a result, students may no longer wear or display images of the confederate flag on their clothing or any other personal item while at school or a school-sponsored event or function due to the disruption it has created.

Please discuss this with your student and ensure that they understand that they are not to wear or display the confederate flag on any item.

Thank you in advance for helping us ensure that Bloomington North is a safe and respectful learning environment.

Sincerely,
Jeffry Henderson
Bloomington North Principal




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