Durham County

Durham Public Schools to ban Confederate flag? Stay tuned

Durham school board Chairman Mike Lee speaks out about possibly banning the Confederate flag

The Durham school board will meet Thursday, Aug. 24, to discuss expanding the student dress code to ban the Confederate flag, swastikas and Ku Klux Klan symbols. The board will meet at 6 :30 p.m., at the Fuller Administration Building, 511 Clevela
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The Durham school board will meet Thursday, Aug. 24, to discuss expanding the student dress code to ban the Confederate flag, swastikas and Ku Klux Klan symbols. The board will meet at 6 :30 p.m., at the Fuller Administration Building, 511 Clevela

The Durham school board on Thursday, Aug. 24, could join other area school districts by strengthening its student dress code to ban the Confederate battle flag, swastika and Ku Klux Klan symbols.

The school board will meet beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Fuller Administration Building, 511 Cleveland St.

The proposed ban comes on the heels of similar changes the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City and Orange County public school districts made to student dress code policies earlier this month.

School board members in Orange County had wrestled with the same idea for nearly a year, but were moved to action by the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia on Aug. 12 during a counterprotest to a march by white supremacists.

Durham Public Schools Board of Education Chairman Mike Lee has said that the violence in Charlottesville also served to jump start the conversation about the student dress code and free speech rights in the Durham Public Schools.

“I do believe in freedom of speech, however, there’s a limit to that,” Lee said. “When it comes to bullying or intimidation and things of that sort, we have to draw a line.”

Under a draft of the proposed policy expansion being considered by the Durham school board, students would be prohibited from wearing clothing, jewelry, book bags, or other articles of personal appearance which are, “reasonably likely to create a substantial and material disruption to the educational process or to the operation of the school, including items that are reasonably expected to intimidate other students on the basis of race (for example the Confederate battle flag, swastika, and Ku Klux Klan or KKK), color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, or religious affiliation.”

The proposed changes in school dress code polices come amid calls from across the nation for the removal of Confederate statutes from public spaces.

Protesters in Durham toppled a statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the Old County Courthouse downtown on Aug. 14.

And hundreds of students and others gathered on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill on Tuesday, Aug. 22 to call for the removal of the Silent Sam Confederate statue because of its ties to Jim Crow laws and white nationalists.

Greg Childress: 919-419-6645, @gchild6645

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