Confederate flag ban upsets parents

Others propose alternative to early release day

Nearly 50 parents, students and community members packed the Dolores School Board of Education meeting room Tuesday night to express their dissatisfaction with a variety of things, including early-release Wednesdays, the recent ban of the Confederate flag and the possible dismissal of a football coach.

"Banning things sends the wrong message to our children," said Bill Nelligan. "I think this is a poor decision. If you don't like something, ban it. Tolerance is a two-way street."

The Confederate flag was banned at the Dolores schools last week, following an incident that school officials called a hate crime, during which a student allegedly placed a hateful display in a teacher's classroom.

Following the incident, a school wide memo was e-mailed out, calling for the ban of the display of the "Confederate Flag and any other symbols that represent and promote hate crimes."

Many parents felt the decision to outright ban the flag was rash.

"Our Constitution guarantees our right to freedom of expression," Nelligan said. "I don't have to agree with you, but you have the right to say it."

Nelligan felt that parents should have been consulted before such a decision was made.

"I feel my parental rights were usurped with this policy," Nelligan said.

Angie Sawyer felt that the decision of the administration to ban the flag, made the students that like the flag seem racist.

"My kid is a great kid. He is a good student and he is in trouble every day for wearing the rebel flag," she said.

Brenda Hindmarsh said she felt the ban, unfairly targeted her son, who painted a Confederate flag on his tailgate.

"My son has been implicated in this incident," Hindmarsh said. "He grew up watching Dukes of Hazard. This is not right, that is a good boy back there."

"If you simply wear a flag or fly a flag, it does not make you racist."

Hindmarsh said a teacher had told her son he was racist for having the flag on his tailgate and the words "Nobama" on the side of his truck.

"I don't think he is a racist," said Josh Munson, government teacher. "I just explained to him that putting those two things together may give you a reputation you don't deserve."

Keith Moore also spoke.

"The only thing we taught is through intolerance, we are going to teach tolerance," Moore said.

Football Coach Ray Weir and his players also crowded into the standing-room only board room because they felt he wouldn't be hired back.

"Why is my job back out in the paper?" Weir said. "I'm not an easy coach, but I am fair."

Rhonda Weir was also upset with the way things were handled.

"I've been extremely happy with the schools until this year," Weir said.

Parent Monica Plewe said she felt the new administration was unprofessional.

"We are in a community, we have to treat people with respect," Plewe said.

Lenetta Shull presented a plan from the recently formed student-parent coalition that will do away with early release Wednesdays and instead get teachers to collaborate in the early mornings.

"Early release is a huge, huge problem," Shull said. "It is a burden on the parents."