By Jill Penley
The primary focus of any school system should be to provide a safe, learning environment for all students and often that involves tackling some sensitive issues such as flying flags on vehicles. While there is no formal policy regarding the display of flags on campus, social media was abuzz when a Johnson County High School student reported he was made to remove the American flag from his vehicle last week. According to school officials, flags are not banned, and the school system does not have a policy or objection to displaying the American flag.
“The flag policy is not a written policy,” explained Mischelle Simcox, Johnson County Director of Schools. “It is simply a practice to not cause disruptions to the learning environments.”
Board policy does require all students and parents respect the learning environment of the school and refrain from causing disruptions on school grounds. Unlike other governments, school districts are allowed by law to restrict student speech if it interferes with the learning process. However, they also must be mindful of students’ constitutional rights. Simcox clarified that the incident in question involved flying a flag on a vehicle.
“Students can’t fly any flags on their vehicles, and this procedure has been in place and enforced for many years,” she said. “During homecoming week, flags were proudly carried within the building on America day, and students wear apparel in support of our nation almost daily.”
Simcox also stressed that the high school has flags proudly hung on campus, in every classroom, and in the gym. “We play the national anthem at every event, and we start the day at every school pledging the flag,” she said. “Also, we require our football team to be on the field for the anthem which no other school in our area does.”
Simcox insists patriotism is alive and well in Johnson County Schools