Union County School Board limits what can be displayed in classrooms

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — The Union County Public School Board of Education approved new rules Tuesday night on what can be displayed in classrooms.

The Union County School Board is limiting displays in classrooms to material that “represents the United States, the State of North Carolina, the school, or the curriculum.”

The policy has been discussed for months. Board member Gary Sides initially wanted the district to examine its policy surrounding flags after a Pride flag was used to promote a high school musical.

While the district does have policies surrounding politics on campus, it had nothing related to flag displays in the classroom. The new policy from Sides says, “Classroom displays shall be limited to materials which represent the United States, the State of North Carolina, the school name and mascot, and/or are related to the curriculum.”

The school board also gave the green light that if the content that students will come into contact with is deemed inappropriate for one school, it will also be removed from any other school at the grade level and below where the material has been identified.

A Union County high school senior started a petition before the proposal became policy.

“In reality, they have no problem with sports teams’ logos. They just have a problem with Pride flags, if you know what I mean,” said Sydney Satalino.

Satalino said she thinks she knows what motivated the proposed policy, which would effectively ban teachers from displaying certain flags in the classroom, such as Black Lives Matter and Pride flags.

“They are claiming to protect us by blocking access to these materials. In reality, they are not protecting us. They are making people affirm themselves less -- making them feel alone, isolated,” Satalino said.

Parents, including Reagan Shaw, find the wording to be intentionally vague and problematic.

“We are very confused as to what curriculum means,” Shaw said. “If you are in a math classroom and there is a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the wall, is that going to be ripped down now?”

A group of parents called Moms for Liberty supports the policy.

“All children have the right to an education that is free from divisive politics and indoctrination,” said the Union County Chapter of Moms for Liberty. “Political and divisive topics and ideologies in the classroom are not conducive to a successful learning environment where all children can safely focus on academics.”

But Shaw says the policy could be misused to go after certain groups.

“A lot of us are very concerned that this is going to target symbols of inclusion, which has historically been something that teachers were encouraged to provide in their classroom, to provide a warm and welcoming environment,” Shaw said.

(WATCH: Union County plan to limit classroom decorations causes divide)

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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