The Atlanta journal-Constitution
Oct 6, 2001
By Steve Visser
The McEachern High School principal has backed off his objections to students wearing clothing adorned with the Confederate flag after black and white students told him it shouldn’t be banned from campus.
Tommy Farr, the new principal of the school outside Powder Springs who told a student Monday that a shirt with the Dixie Outfitters logo was "not OK," said he feared the banner would cause problems at the racially diverse Cobb County school and told students not to wear it.
The action angered some youths who display or don the banner daily.
"He warned us that if we wore Confederate flag, we would get suspended…," said Lee Norton, a sophomore.
McEachern wasn’t the only metro Atlanta school to face the flag issue. Earlier this week more than a dozen students at Loganville High School in Walton County were suspended for one day for wearing Dixie Outfitters shirts in response to a minor racial incident. The school’s dress code bans the name brand, Malcolm X symbols and other images that are considered provocative.
"The kids kind of tested the system," said Superintendent Kathy Arnet. "Any racial harassment will not be tolerated here by either side."
At McEachern on Monday Farr queried his supervisors to find out whether he could ban clothing with Rebel flag under the Cobb County dress code and was told by Tony Arasi, assistant superintendent for discipline, that he could if it was "disruptive" at school.
Arasi said Farr, felt the flag "had been and could be disruptive."
That wasn’t news to Paris Allen, a 16-year-old junior, who said many African-American students feel the flag contributes to a hostile atmosphere at McEachern,
"It’s not that they wear it, it’s the attitude they have when they wear it," Paris said. "I’m not saying everybody has to get along, but the writing in the bathroom…that doesn’t sit well with some people."
The writing included references to the Ku Klux Klan and racial slurs.
Students said the school already bans much of the hip-hop style of dress as unsuitable attire, and some black students think the Rebel flag falls in the same category.
Instead, students were told that Farr had convened a racially mixed panel of 24 pupils Thursday.
Farr said the panel vouched that the flag wasn’t a problem.
Tommy Westbrook, a Confederate aficionado whose daughter attends McEachern, said the flag should be worn as a symbol of regional pride and not misused as a logo for hatred.
"It’s a Southern symbol that represents Southern people-white and black," her said. "That’s how I feel."
Staff writer Henry Farber contributed to this article.
On The Web: is it OK, for students to wear the Confederate flag to school? www.accessatlanta.com/news/forum/flag.html