Easthampton Schools Allow Confederate Flag, Then Ban It -- For Now

May 8, 2017

The Easthampton School Committee will decide Tuesday night whether to continue a temporary ban  that prohibits students from wearing clothing with a symbol of the confederate flag to school.

Last Friday, Easthampton's superintendent of schools, Nancy Follansbee, sent an email to parents and members of the school community acknowledging that a student had worn a sweatshirt to the high school with an image of the confederate flag.

"State and federal law protects a student’s right to freedom of speech, and this includes wearing clothing with a symbol of the Confederate flag," the email read.

Dozens of students, along with some parents and community members responded Monday with a march and a sit-in at Easthampton High School.

"We intended it to be a disturbance of education," said Isabelle Poirier, a senior who helped organize the protest,  "to show that we don't feel safe having a confederate flag and other hate symbols in the school. And to show that it is distracting."

Also on Monday, the superintendent banned the flag until Tuesday night, when the school committee will decide its policy on the flag.

The school district has also hired a consultant, the Collaborative for Educational Services, to hold a series of forums to air the concerns of students, teachers and parents, and to help the school develop a three-year plan to address racial tensions.

Students, like Poirier, are calling for an all-day event now,  to discuss the issues.

The American Civil Liberties Union has offered to hold a teach-in on civil rights.