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Suggestions

Suggestions to Parents and Students for Resolving a School Ban on Confederate symbols in your Community.

 

By Kirk D. Lyons

Chief Trial Counsel

Southern Legal Resource Center

P.O.Box 1235

Black Mountain, NC  28711

828-669-5189

slrc@slrc-csa.org

www.slrc-csa.org

 

 

  1. Obtain copy of the School or Board of Education’s Dress code. Send to your attorney and to SLRC (fax No 828-669-5191 or P.O.Box 1235 Black Mountain, NC 28711)

 

  1. Have all students affected by the ban & their parents contact the SLRC case manager 864-476-0656 slrc@crystalink.com and give a fact statement with the following info:
    1. Student’s name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth, Social Security number, grade in school
    2. Name and address of school, name of Principal and any involved teachers or administrators
    3. Name of School System involved, County & State where this violation takes place, name,  address and phone number (and email) of Superintendent and all members of the Board of Education.
    4. Facts regarding any race related problems at school, esp those involving Confederate symbols.
    5. Statements regarding Confederate clothing, symbols or history (pro or con) made by the Principal, teachers or other students especially as they relate to the ban on Confederate clothing and especially ignorant and bigoted statements.
    6. Relate all facts and conversations regarding any request by teacher or administrator for a student to remove Confederate clothing or symbol
    7. Make notes of clothing and symbols worn and displayed by other students in the school that are NOT punished by school officials for so doing. This can include offensive dress styles, obscene t-shirts, drug symbols, FUBU clothing, “ Malcom X” clothing. Specifically note all other heritage symbols that are allowed to be worn to school, like Mexican flags, Irish flags. Note other religious symbols allowed: crucifixes, Stars of David, Muslim Crescents, etc.
    8. Note any discipline problems the student has been involved in.

 

  1. Contact the local Sons of Confederate Veterans and request their assistance. All male students and their Father’s that are eligible should join. Female students can join the Children of the Confederacy, the United Daughters of the Confederacy or the Order of Confederate Rose.  The Sons should be willing to provide continuing historical education for all students involved and help them to find a Confederate ancestor. Educating the students to their ancestry and Confederate history is an important step in the process.  We need educated students who can rationally and intelligently explain to a School board or jury WHY Confederate heritage is important to them.
    1. The students should be given the background of War Between the States history
    2. If the student is a Christian, the student should be told the Christian symbolism of the Confederate flag
    3. The student should be made aware that the Confederate flag is a symbol of his ancestry
    4. The Student should be assisted in find his/her Confederate ancestor
    5. The Student should determine if he/she is a Confederate Southern American
  2. Explain the legal background to the students and parents.  This may be done by going to the SLRC website: www.slrc-csa.org and looking under  “Southern Civil Rights Advice,” “Case Law” and “ Legal Research.”
    1. The student should understand that he/she has a limited 1st Amendment Right to display Confederate symbols.
    2. That a ban on Confederate symbols may also be a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, being discrimination based on Race, Religion (the Confederate flag being a Christian symbol) and National Origin.

 

 

  1. If a student is told to remove or change the shirt – they should comply.  Defiance will create a discipline problem and flag supporters will not win if it is a discipline issue.  We must keep it a free speech issue. At the same time the student needs to send a message to the school that his rights are being violated. A protest t-shirt might be an option. Dixie outfitters and SLRC sells one (Jesus and the Confederate Battle flag: Banned from our Schools, But Forever in Our Hearts) or the student can devise his own by covering the Confederate flag with a black patch and writing “CENSORED” over the patch.

 

 

  1. Parent, student & adult witness should meet the principal in his office and bring (not wear) the offending t-shirt.  The parent then tells the Principal that his child has parental permission to wear the offending shirt and permission is hereby requested from the principal for the student to wear the shirt.  When the principal refuses, the parent should have the principal state why the student cannot wear the shirt. Make a written record of the Principals statement. 

 

  1. If the Principal will not change his position, the parent should have an attorney (or SLRC, ACLU etc) send a letter to the Principal (copy to Superintendent and Board of Education) the letter should state:

 

    1. That the actions of the Principal, implementing the policies of the Board of Education violate your child’s Constitutional rights and are a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, being discrimination based on Race, Religion and National Origin (include if the facts so warrant).
    2. That the Confederate Flag is a venerated symbol of your child’s ancestry and you request that the principal accommodate your child in the honorable display of his/her heritage. (include if the facts warrant)
    3. That the Confederate Flag is a venerated symbol of your child’s Christian religious faith and you request that the principal accommodate your child in the practice of his beliefs. (include if the facts warrant)

 

  1. If the Principal still refuses, you must now take your fight to the Board of Education.  Principals do not make school policy. They implement and administer policies set by the Board of Education. What you are contesting is the Board of Education policy (or interpretation of policy)  that bans Confederate symbols. Now is the time to get to know your school trustees. Again, what you must attack is the Board of Education’s policy banning Confederate flags.  Most Boards do not specifically ban Confederate flags in their dress code.  If the Principal is acting unreasonably, if there is no disruption (or the disruption is caused by the actions of the school) then if the Board of Education “circles the wagons around him” simply because they want no diminution of his authority, then their unwillingness to correct him may be a policy decision that has the effect of illegally banning Confederate symbols. It is the policy you must change. “Rogue” actions of a principal do not usually constitute policy that can be imputed to the Board of Education. In any case the Board of Education must have knowledge of his actions so that they will have the opportunity to correct and override him.

 

 

  1. Form a parent and student group to be your political arm.  Give it a name like Smith County Heritage Coalition or Concerned Citizens (or Parents) of Smith County Schools. It should be LOCAL, made up of local people.  ANYONE in your County interested in helping should be invited to join.  Local SCV and heritage groups should be encouraged to join in their private capacity (SCV is non-political). 
    1. Elect Chairman/Spokesman
    2. Conduct community or County-wide Petition drive.  There should be two petitions.  One for Students and non-voters. The Second one is ONLY for registered voters in the county. Make your petition legible and make sure there is plenty of room to write, I recommend that there only be 4 or 5 names to the page.  Include signature, printed name, address, phone number and EMAIL.
    3. Never give up a petition to the school board.  Brandish it at them, tell them how many signatures you have, but you keep it.  From it create a database for keeping the community informed, gaining members and raising a war chest (you’ll need it).
    4. Form website
    5. Get on Community access cable TV
    6. Put out regular Pres releases and coordinate this with the SCV and other heritage groups.
    7. Avoid extremist groups like the plague
    8. Stay in touch with members of the Board of Education.  Find out when the next election is.  Find out who is running against them and solicit their support if the incumbent opposes you.  Run for the office yourself if necessary.  Use the Association to find candidates to run for office.
    9. Seek allies.

 

  1. Get on Agenda for meeting of the Board of Education.  Let your attorney coordinate. Carefully pick your speakers and have them prepare their remarks, you will probably get no more than 3 minutes per person.  Call out the troops to pack the meeting.   Only well-dressed attendees inside the meeting.  Protesters and casually dressed people, outside.
  2. If the School Board refuses to change their policy, and you still seek redress, you must now prepare to file a lawsuit. If you have not yet obtained legal counsel, do so!