HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina school board has voted not to ban the Confederate flag from school grounds, rejecting two pleas from a local chapter of the NAACP to establish the policy.
The Orange County Schools Board of Education decided instead on Monday to establish an equity committee to advise the board on several issues, including symbolic speech.
Board chairman Steven Halkiotis said board members will not tolerate hate speech, bullying or intimidation.
The Northern Orange County NAACP had asked the board to ban the Confederate flag on school grounds during the board’s earlier meeting in February.
“To the NAACP, that includes the historical context of the Confederate flag to slavery, the Confederacy, the Civil War and Jim Crow,” NAACP President Patricia Clayton said in a letter to school board members. “For many, the flag is a racially inflammatory symbol, which is undeniably rooted in slavery and racism. Given OCS’ commitment to serve all students, the district should not allow the Confederate flag on its campuses.”
Some students, parents, employees and community members said there’s been an increase in Confederate flags appearing on vehicles, bags and pieces of clothing on school grounds.
Shaniece Thorpe, a junior at Orange High School, said she doesn’t appreciate it when her fellow students use the Confederate flag to make themselves feel superior to her and other black students.
“It makes me feel isolated and distracts me,” she said. “… I have the same potential or more potential than the people who feel like I am belittled in my class.”