School board hears dueling sides of flag issue

Published: August 13, 2008
Jennifer Raley
Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND – The Confederate flag dominated the bulk of discussion at Tuesday’s meeting of the Allegany County Board of Education.

"We want it banned because it causes problems we don’t need," said Robin Woods of the Concerned Citizens of Cumberland group.

The request for the ban of the Confederate flag was made in response to racial tension that occurred in county schools last year.

William Peck of Concerned Citizens of Cumberland told the board he was disappointed that he had not heard a response about the request over the summer.

"I was confident that we could work this out – this county has a horrible reputation for race relations," said Peck. He said if something is not done, he will begin to seek counsel from outside groups and take legal action.

Peck said while he supports a man’s right to fly the flag in his yard or display it on his truck, he does not think it belonged in school because of the disruption it has caused.

Edward Taylor, president of the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization, said to remove the flag from school is detrimental to the history of the nation.

"The problem is not the flag," said Mary Miltenberger of the Allegany County Preservation Society. She said the problem began with kids fighting, and that is what needs to be addressed.

Roger Ware of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said while using the flag to intimidate another student is wrong, banning it is not the way to resolve problems.

Gary Hanna, board attorney, said the court system would not support a permanent ban on the flag.

While the flag is not banned, Superintendent of Schools Bill AuMiller said the school system will continue to have programs and student groups working to improve race relations.

"We plan to pick up where we left off last year," said AuMiller.

The board members said they would not tolerate any types of racial intimidation this school year.

© 2008, The Cumberland Times-News

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