Hays school board votes to ban flag
Code of conduct will prohibit display of Confederate flag.
BUDA — The Confederate flag once flew from the bleachers at football games at Hays High School before the Hays school board voted in 2000 to phase out its official use.
On Monday, the board banned the flag entirely on district property and at district-sponsored events.
Acting on outgoing Superintendent Jeremy Lyon’s rec- ommendation, trustees voted 5-2 in favor of amending the district’s student code of conduct to prohibit the display of writings or images that are discriminatory, harassing or threatening, including the display of the Confederate flag.
Trustees Shaun Bosar and Marty Kanetzky voted against the change.
Kanetzky said she didn’t think the amendment addresses the real problem, which is confusion over whether the flag was allowed on campus.
When the board voted to
discontinue the flag’s use in 2000, trustees specified that the district was not banning the flag from students’ personal property, including apparel and personal signs at sporting events. Since 2009, campus principals have had discretion over whether the Confederate flag could be displayed on campus, district spokesman Tim Savoy said.
Cyndie Holmes told the board Monday that her son, now a junior at the high school, was pulled from class because he had a Confederate flag sticker on his truck.
“Can I not be proud of my Southern heritage?” she asked, invoking her great-great-great-grandfather, who she said was a captain in the Civil War.
She said the board was breaching students’ freedom of expression.
Trustee Merideth Keller was unequivocal in her support to at least enforce a dress code that bans the Confederate flag.
“I think that we’re in the business of educating children, and if a student has trouble taking her math test because another child is wearing the Confederate flag, well, we can’t support that,” Keller said. “If a teacher feels undermined because students are wearing the Confederate flag, I don’t think we can support that.”
The board’s decision to ban the flag comes in the wake of a May incident in which a racial epithet, “KKK” and the words “catch em, kill em” were inscribed on an AfricanAmerican teacher’s door at Hays High. Two male students, then 14 years old, were charged in connection with the vandalism and the teacher, who had announced her resignation prior to the incident, left the district.
Melissa Deichmann, who spoke to the board with her daughter, Tiffany, a sophomore at Hays High, countered that the students were also accused of vandalizing other parts of the school.
“It was not just racial,” she said.
Deichmann described her family’s deep Southern roots, telling trustees that her family fought at the Alamo and that her son, who graduated from Hays, is proud to be a Rebel.
Tiffany Deichmann told the board that she loves the Confederate flag, and that she wants her school ring to have the flag on it.
When board president Willie Tenorio Jr. graduated from Hays High in 1986, the flag appeared on the school’s graduation announcements, he said.
As he moved to approve Lyon’s recommendation, he said the ban is the right decision for the community.
The trustees did not discuss the high school’s fight song, “Dixie,” but Tenorio told the American-Statesman after the vote that they will visit that subject in the future. But, he said, there appears to be less opposition to the song than to the flag.
“The song is more subject to debate,” he said. “At least in the minds of a lot of people.”
Hays High sophomore Tiffany Deichmann, 15, told the Hays school board that she loves the Confederate flag and wants it on her school ring.
School board Trustee Shaun Bosar (center) voted against amending the school code of conduct to prohibit display of the Confederate flag.