Flag decision protested

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

For 26 years, the Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization has worked to restore cemeteries, erect and restore monuments, to promote our nation’s true history in dedication to those who have helped to build our nation in the past, and to pray for their souls. These activities have always been completed with private dollars.

Recently the organization presented an idea to Mr. Dan Whetzel, head of the social studies department with the Allegany County Board of Education. The proposal was for a designed brochure engineered for school children to learn the true history of the four major Confederate Flags.

The mission was to educate the students on the true history of the Confederate Flag and to eliminate the incorrect theory that the flag was used for racial purposes. True education is the only way to overcome ignorance.

We also displayed a statement condemning any individual or organization that would use these flags for racial intimidation. Mr. Whetzel responded very favorably. He read the proof and approved the brochure.

At our expense, we produced a high quality, color brochure that was delivered to Mr. Whetzel’s office. The brochure was to be distributed in April 2009, which is National Confederate History Month. At Mr. Whetzel’s request it was to reach the hands of local eighth grade students that study the Civil War.

After the brochures were delivered, Mr. Whetzel left a recorded call to the CHCO to come pick up the brochures. When we contacted Mr. Whetzel for an explanation we were informed it was the superintendent of schools, Dr. William AuMiller’s decision not to distribute the brochure.

At that time the CHCO requested a hearing with the Allegany County Board of Education members to appeal his decision. It took the Board of Education almost two months to arrange the meeting. The hearing was then held, but the press was barred from attending.

Our members learned through Dr. AuMiller’s own testimony that before Mr. Whetzel approved the brochure he had shown it to Mr. AuMiller. At that time, Dr. AuMiller, apparently had no problem with the brochure because Mr. Whetzel came back to the CHCO and stated the proof was fine.

It wasn’t until the finished product was delivered to the school system that Dr. AuMiller did a complete turn around against the brochure. Throughout Dr. AuMiller’s testimony, he cited there were religious symbols and political messages in the brochure. However, he failed to point out what they were.

We feel if Dr. AuMiller had any problem with the brochure he should have disclosed his apprehensions in the preliminary stages of production. As an organization, we wonder who got to Dr. AuMiller?

Within the hearing the CHCO has made three requests to the Allegany County Board of Education members. Due to Dr. AuMiller’s unprofessional actions on this issue, we request:

1. To be reimbursed for the full amount of the cost of producing the brochure;

2. We request the board of education cover the fees of our attorney, Mr. Paul Sullivan;

3. A statement in writing that for the next five years, 2010-2015 in April, that we are granted permission to place these brochures in the hands of the eighth grade students that study the Civil War.

If these requests are not granted, we will appeal the Allegany County Board of Education’s decision to the Maryland State Board of Education.

Edward W. Taylor Jr. Pres.
Cumberland Historic
Cemetery Organization
Cumberland