Confederate flag issue dropped from debate in Anderson School District 4

By Vince Jackson/Special to the Independent-Mail
May 12, 2008

PENDLETON — You can still wear the Confederate Flag at Anderson School District 4’s Pendleton High School.

At a board meeting on Monday, May 12, Superintendent Gary Burgess recommended that there would be no change in the dress code at this time.

“There was no vote on any modification to the dress code,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s a dead issue.”

That means there will be prohibitions on obscenities printed on clothes, and revealing clothing will be unacceptable, but the proposal banning the rebel flag, as well as displays that are inappropriate including “profanity, sexual suggestions/insinuation, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, ethnic slurs, (and) slogans/symbols that may lead to disorder.”

In April, the board proposed those changes to the high school’s dress code. Those changes were on the agenda to be discussed during the meeting, but they were not.

The changes came about when concerns arose over some students wearing the flag during “Black History Month” said Assistant Superintendent Joanne Avery.

However, on April 26, Superintendent Gary Burgess sent a memo to the school district’s board of trustees recommending against the ban.

“It is inappropriate to place a general ban on the image of the Confederate Battle Flag … Such a ban will cause a larger concern than the high school administration has expressed in an e-mail, to me, dated April 17, 2008,” he wrote.

Instead, Burgess recommended students wearing the flag should be dealt with on an individual basis.

Burgess said he has not received any calls either for or against the ban since the issue arose on Monday.

Gloria Plotnik, of the Anderson County NAACP was the only person to speak during the Public Comment segment of the meeting.

“We know what is objectionable and derisive to people and the Confederate flag is one of those things. Some say it is a symbol of heritage, but for those of us who have experienced hatred from those who have carried that flag, we know it is a symbol of something else,” she said. “Is it OK to allow a student to wear a swastika to school on their T-shirt? If this Board allows any divisive symbol to be worn there will not be peace in our schools.”

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