SYRACUSE — Emotions have apparently calmed at Wawasee High School after a few somewhat turbulent days involving a situation with a small group of students flying Confederate flags on their pickup trucks and also wearing clothing showing the same flag.
School administrators received complaints from the public earlier this week about the Confederate flags. The group of students responded Thursday by flying Confederate flags on their trucks and also wearing the flag on their clothing.
Administrators then told the group of students they could no longer fly the flag on their trucks or wear clothing displaying it while on school property.
Dr. Tom Edington, superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation, said reports had been received of threatening comments made in both classroom and non classroom settings, as well as on social media. When the comments were made on social media, authorities were notified.
He added some reports were also received of a few of the students with the trucks flying the flags doing “burnouts” in the parking lot and creating unsafe situations for other students walking nearby.
At least one student flying the Confederate flag told a local TV station he had been threatened while at school. Edington noted some students had indicated they were afraid to come to school “and a couple did not come to school.”
He said Friday morning “The parking lot is free of Confederate flags today,” and he had not received any reports of students wearing the flag on their clothing Friday morning. “Things look to be fine this morning,” he added.
Edington said he had not heard a specific number of how many of the students were flying the Confederate flag, “but I understood it to be a small group.”
Although the students felt like they had legal rights to fly and display the flag, Edington said they stepped across a line and infringed on the rights of others. “You don’t do things to step on the toes of others,” he said. “Others have rights too.”
He said “the (Confederate) flag doesn’t just mean you are a rebel,” especially within the last few years. “Now it has even racial meanings,” he added.
The students, he added, can decorate their trucks however they wish after they leave the high school campus.
Apparently the small group of students had been wearing and flying the Confederate flag even last week. “But not a word was said about it and it did not disrupt the learning environment,” Edington said. “Then things started to escalate,” this week.
As of Friday morning, he said he felt confident the situation had calmed and “cooler heads had prevailed.”