Hopefully some folks have been following the supreme court decision on the Boston Flag controversy. In a 9-0 ruling the supreme court upheld the right of a private organization to fly its flag on Boston City Hall’s flagpole because the city had allowed other private groups to do so – effectively making the flagpole an open forum for free speech. The OSSD is currently facing this same issue.
Knowing that this ruling was coming and that it may impact the district’s ability to continue flying the BLM flag, I advised the OSSD Board to consider a flag policy that would allow the district to say no to flags and symbols that would conflict with our mission or be seen as repugnant. The Board began this work about four months ago and is nearing a decision. The supreme court decision came early – it wasn’t expected until the end of June which puts the district in a state of risk. Right now, the district can be asked by any group to fly any flag or symbol they desire, and the district cannot say no without facing an immediate lawsuit for violating that groups free speech rights, a lawsuit that could exact significant tolls on both the district’s image and the taxpayer funds we use to support our work. Immediately following the Board meeting last night, when a policy decision was not reached, we received such a request.
To protect the district and the rights of all involved, all non-governmental flags will be removed from the district flagpoles until the Board has reached a policy decision on the matter. Once the policy has been decided, I will fully enforce the Board’s will as expressed in that policy.
Because of the emotion tied to all of these proceedings, folks need to understand that this is not about the BLM flag, any non-governmental flag on our flagpoles would have put the district in the same position and would require the same response.
Sincerely, Layne Millington, OSSD Superintendent
The Orange Southwest School District serves students and families in the towns of Randolph, Braintree, and Brookfield, Vermont. Our three elementary schools provide services to students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Randolph Union High School serves students from grades seven through twelve; and the Randolph Technical Career Center provides technical education services for juniors and seniors from communities throughout Central Vermont.
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