Students wearing confederate flag symbols barred from school

May 8, 2004, 8:44 PM EDT

SARANAC, N.Y. — About 30 students showed up at Saranac High School in the northeastern Adirondacks with confederate flag symbols on their clothes or cars Friday, and school officials sent home those who refused to remove them.

The district bars clothing that may promote racial or religious prejudice, said Superintendent Michael Derrigo. "I think sometimes students don’t understand what certain symbols portray to other individuals," he said.

The students who wore them say the flag represents heritage, not racism, and they are being censored. Some had been wearing it on clothes all year, but they did it jointly after the ban.

"Some students are saying the flag stands for hate, slavery and racism, but it doesn’t," said Kayla Elkins, 15. "We are going to keep wearing these shirts."

James Blocker, a black student whose complaint led to the ban, sees the confederate flag as a symbol used by white supremacists and groups like the Ku Klux Klan. He doesn’t necessarily think his classmates are racist for wearing them.

"It just bothers me when there are students in our school who don’t know they are hurting people’s feelings because of their ignorance," Blocker said.

If you have comments on the issue above, we urge you to contact the people below:
Michael Derrigo, Superintendent, Saranac Central School District
Vivian Kiroy, President, School Board
Ray Guydosh, School Board Member
Jeri Bennett, Vice President, School Board
Tracy Allen, School Board Member
Becky Schwartz, School Board Member
Jules LaPoint, School Board Member
Lori Saunders, School Board Member