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Howard County Schools disciplines student who displayed Confederate flag at game

September 20, 2014
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ConfederateFlagHeritageA Howard County student who unfurled a Confederate flag at a high school football game was disciplined, according to a spokeswoman for the school system.

Rebecca Amani-Dove, the spokeswoman, would not say what type of action was taken against the Glenelg student who displayed the flag while standing at the top of the bleachers during the season opener between Glenelg and River Hill high schools on Friday night. The student was immediately told to take the flag down.

“Carrying a Confederate flag is not illegal, but anything that causes disruption is actionable from an administrative perspective,” Amani-Dove said. “Administrative action was taken in alignment with our student code of conduct.”

Amani-Dove said the principals at Glenelg and River Hill sent letters to parents and addressed students about the incident on Monday.

Word that the flag, which is seen by many as a hate symbol representing slavery and racism, was displayed in Howard County, quickly spread over the weekend in the county.

“Public displays of the Confederate Flag evoke division, hate and subjugation — precisely the opposite of the values we hold in Howard County, and in Maryland,” Howard County Executive Ken Ulman posted on his Facebook page Monday. “We must teach our kids why this is such a hurtful symbol to so many people. We must fight against injustice and intolerance in any form, especially at our schools.”

Howard County Schools Superintendent Renee A. Foose released a statement saying the incident “has been addressed in both of the school communities, and administrative actions have been taken in accordance with our Student Code of Conduct.”

Saying that to many, “the Confederate flag is a powerful symbol of racism, hatred, and unspeakable acts against humanity,” she said the county school system has policies that address civility, student conduct, and safe schools, and that “collectively, these policies support a culture that is intolerant of hateful and disruptive behaviors, words, and symbols.”

Foose spoke of the diversity of the school system, which is a majority-minority district. Twenty-two percent of its student population is African American, 18 percent is Asian and 9 percent is Hispanic. Forty-four percent of the student body is white.

“We believe that we are enriched by our diversity,” she wrote. “Howard County is an enlightened, civil community that values and draws strength from our rich diversity. Our children learn about the world in which they live not only in the classroom, but by visiting the homes of their peers who have different backgrounds and traditions.

“In education, we look for teachable moments in every situation that life brings our way. Even the most unfortunate incidents give us an opportunity to draw positive lessons. I encourage our 53,000 students to understand the sociocultural and historical contexts of all of their peers, and act in ways that are both honorable and respectful.”

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