The Osceola School District had to address a social media firestorm this weekend pertaining to the United States flag.
It all started when resident Jim Berg sent the following question to the school: “Is it true that the kids aren’t allowed to have American flags at school or on their personal vehicles in the parking lot?”
Berg shared the response from High School Principal Adam Spiegel on the Osceola, Wisconsin Taxpayers Facebook page.
“…The School District is committed to taking measures to ensure that items brought upon school property do not interfere with the educational process or with school activities…There is an ongoing concern that the display or use of flags brought by students can substantially or materially disrupt the school environment. Because of our responsibility to safeguard the interests of our students in the provision of an education free from inappropriate or unlawful disruptions, the District has decided to ban students from bringing flags onto school grounds. This prohibition is not targeted at any particular type of flag, and is a ban on all types of flags.”
The response drew outcry and confusion on social media, which caused Superintendent Mark Luebker to send a letter to District families.
“We proudly display/fly the American flag throughout the school district, inside classrooms, in the front of every school and on athletic fields,” the letter stated.
Luebker also brought up the disruption and distraction of flags being used inappropriately for the policy.
He said, going forward, the American flag can be flown on District grounds as long as the rules of the U.S. Flag Code are being followed. He also stated, no other flags are permitted on the school campus or at school events.
“We have never banned anyone from wearing anything with the United States flag in school or at school events and do not plan to,” the letter concluded.
Guidelines for display of the flag
Public Law 94-344, known as the Federal Flag Code, contains rules for handling and displaying the U.S. flag. While the federal code contains no penalties for misusing the flag, states have their own flag codes and may impose penalties. The language of the federal code makes clear that the flag is a living symbol.
In response to a Supreme Court decision, which held that a state law prohibiting flag burning was unconstitutional, Congress enacted the Flag Protection Act in 1989. It provides that anyone who knowingly desecrates the flag may be fined and/or imprisoned for up to one year. However, this law was challenged by the Supreme Court in a 1990 decision that the Flag Protection Act violates the First Amendment free speech protections.
Important things to remember
Traditional guidelines call for displaying the flag in public only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times if it’s illuminated during darkness. The flag should not be subject to weather damage, so it should not be displayed during rain, snow and wind storms unless it is an all-weather flag. It should be displayed often, but especially on national and state holidays and special occasions.
The flag should be displayed on or near the main building of public institutions, schools during school days, and polling places on election days. It should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs