June 09. 2010

New Boston schools rethink policy after Confederate flag flap
Parent upset Soviet colors OK but not those of Confederacy
Steve Pardo / The Detroit News

New Boston — School board members promised to review their policy on self-expression following a controversy featuring the unlikely pairing of the flags of the Confederacy and the former Soviet Union.

Edward Huntington told board members Monday they displayed a double standard when they ordered his son, Jake, a student, to take down a Confederate flag flying from his vehicle in the school parking lot last week. All the while, a teacher — a former hockey coach — has for years displayed a Soviet flag in his classroom next to the American flag.

Jake’s mother, Lori, hails from Alabama. Her son, an Eagle Scout candidate, was simply displaying his Southern roots with the display, she said.

"I find it ridiculous. I’m sickened," she told board members. "I’m proud that some of our family is from the South."

Edward Huntington said he feels individuals should have the right to express themselves with a flag outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom is another matter, he said.

"The only two flags that I feel have the right to hang in the classroom are the state of Michigan and the Stars and Stripes," he said.

He acknowledges racist groups such as the KKK frequently display the Confederate flag.

"There is a small group of people who fly that flag in a hateful way — I don’t agree with it. I think it’s despicable," he said. "They’ve also hijacked the Christian cross. If I see a cross, am I supposed to think that person is a member of the KKK?"

Another student, Nick Grzesik, was ordered to leave school early on the last full day of school last Wednesday because of the Confederate flag that was painted on the window of his truck on Memorial Day.

Grzesik missed the traditional video montage the seniors experience on the last day. He addressed board members at Monday’s meeting, sarcastically thanking them for "kicking him out."

"I didn’t think it would be a problem," Grzesik said.

Some board members expressed sympathy for the students who displayed the stars and bars.

"In Congress, when you go down South, the Confederate flag is literally flying everywhere," said Richard Zavodsky, a board member.

Board members took the comments under advisement.

"The board needs time to think about the decision. We’ll review the policy," said Coleen Lazere, board president.

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