Ban on controversial symbols extended to public on school property | New

OAKLAND – The Garrett County School Board has extended the ban on the Confederate flag and other controversial symbols on school property to non-students.

Any student, employee, visitor or member of the community who is on school property or who participates in school sponsored activities will not be permitted to display the Confederate battle flag, swastikas and ” gang symbols identified “on clothing or personal property,” said director of studies Nicole Miller. the school board last week.

Action can be taken if there is a “reasonable expectation that such symbols will create a substantial disruption of school-sponsored activities or the rights of students, their families or employees,” according to the revised fairness procedure. education of the school system.

The display of such symbols as part of school-approved educational or historical purposes is exempt from the policy.

The ban also prohibits “the display and / or promotion of vulgar language, or the uttering or display of speech, actions and / or symbols, including, but not limited to, on clothing or personal property, which can reasonably be expected to significantly disrupt or materially interfere with school-sponsored activities and / or the rights of students, their families and / or employees by expressing hate messages, or disparagement of students, employees or other members of the school community, ”states the Education Equity Procedure.

School officials reserve the right to restrict access to people – including removing them from school property or events – if their language and conduct does not comply with policy, Miller says. .

“Garrett County Public Schools reserve the right to restrict access and / or request removal of any visitor / community member who … engages in speech or conduct that creates or is reasonably intended to create a hostile educational environment or harassment / bullying based on age, color, genetic information, ability (cognitive, social / emotional and physical), ethnicity, family structure, gender identity or expression, language spoken, ancestry or national origin , race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and / or socio-economic status ”, specifies the procedure.

Miller said the changes are made on the recommendation of legal counsel and are necessary to encompass a larger population.

Previously, restrictions were limited to students and employees, she said.

Board member Monica Rinker asked if the added language is required by the Maryland State Board of Education.

“It was based on legal advice from our lawyer,” Miller replied.

Board chairman Tom Woods said there were discussions earlier this year after seeing “inappropriate things on school property.”

“Our children shouldn’t have to see vulgarity. They shouldn’t have to see things that denigrate anything about them, ”Woods said.

Superintendent Barbara Baker said it was a privilege for members of the public to be on school property, and board member Rodney Glotfelty echoed the sentiment.

“It’s kind of like the requirement for a drug-free campus,” he said. “Students are not allowed to use tobacco products on campus, and this also applies to anyone coming to campus. “

Rinker also asked if there had been any instances of gang symbols spotted in local schools.

Miller said she had “not seen a ton of evidence” of them in Garrett County, and if anything is suspected to be related to gang activity, there will be a coordinated response with the police.

When a group comes together, it is necessary to determine its intentions – especially if it is to disparage or hurt someone else, she said.

During this year’s legislative session, the House of Delegates voted to approve the HB0418 standard, which would require school boards to establish policies prohibiting “the use or display of a symbol of hatred ”. This measure has stalled in the Senate.

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