A local school district forced a middle school teacher to remove a pro-police flag from her classroom wall. But the neighborhood allows the posting of Black Lives Matter and LGBT messages.
The teacher from Marysville Middle School displayed a Thin Blue Line flag in her classroom. It was intended to support the police. But according to documents obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, district human resources said the flag is a “political symbol” that could cause “disruption” in the classroom. She was ordered to take it apart.
But why are BLM and LGBT screens allowed to stay on? As the district refuses to respond, the teacher’s brother said school staff said anti-police sentiment motivated the decision.
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Marysville school district says no to pro-police flag
The teacher supports the police. Her brother, Chris Sutherland, is a former officer with the Marysville Police Department. He was also in charge of school resources during the deadly shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School.
The teacher first placed a Thin Blue Line sticker on her laptop to honor her brother and other law enforcement officers. The image is a symbol of support for the work of the police to ensure the safety of communities.
At the time, a deputy principal objected to the sticker.
According to an HR document on the incident, she alerted the teacher to “concerns about how students, families and community members might interpret what the image intends to communicate, and that this interpretation might disrupt the learning environment “.
But the teacher says the objections were quickly dropped.
Shortly thereafter, the HR document indicates that the teacher displayed a Thin Blue Line flag on her classroom bulletin board. She posted pictures of her brother around the flag. Then a second deputy director ordered him to remove the flag.
âThey told him it was controversial to have this flag. That it makes kids and staff feel unsafe, which to me just doesn’t make sense, âSutherland explained on KTTH’s Jason Rantz.
HR was “very concerned” by the pro-police message
A district HR representative sent the teacher a letter of clarification regarding the conduct.
In addition to concerns about how some might interpret the pro-police sticker and flag, the human resources representative said the district was “very concerned about the impact of this political symbol on students, staff and the families of Marysville Middle School “. He says a deputy director “had heard concerns from other staff members about how this political symbol could negatively impact the professional working environment as a whole.”
The document does not explain what the concern would be or why it would exist in the first place. But he ordered the flag to be removed and asked the teacher to “refrain from using the ‘thin blue line flag’ symbol” in the classroom.
If the teacher does not follow the rules, it “may lead to further disciplinary action.”
In a statement to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, the district confirmed that this incident is considered a personnel matter and will not comment.
And while the clarification letter indicated that the district supported the police, a district spokesperson declined to explain why a Thin Blue Line flag is political. While the pro-police flag is banned, the school allows political expression that criticizes the police.
BLM and LGBT messages get a pass
Sutherland explains that his sister saw BLM messages posted in classrooms.
âThere is also,â she told me, âBLM stuff hanging on the walls, which she was told was OK. For some reason, only the Thin Blue Line flag cannot be hung on it, âexplained Sutherland.
That’s not all. This specific teacher also displayed an LGBT pride flag to support a gay family member.
The district refuses to explain why BLM and LGBT messages are approved, but not a Thin Blue Line symbol.
The BLM is a political movement that explicitly advocates policy prescriptions to perceived issues. A Thin Blue Line symbol does not make up a particular political agenda.
And the LGBT pride flag has also been used as an explicit political symbol to advance civil rights. A Thin Blue Line symbol simply expresses support for law enforcement.
The district refuses to explain why these two messages are allowed, but not the one supporting the police.
The teacher agrees to fight
The teacher reluctantly removed the display from the bulletin board. In a human resources document, she says the situation “has been the most traumatic and hostile experience” at school to date.
âI was proud to come back as a Marysville alumnus and start teaching here in 2014. I remain hopeful for the rest of the school year,â she wrote in response to the HR representative.
She explained that the decision to remove the flag came “from an agenda rather than really wanting to understand me, who I am or my story.”
It’s a feeling his brother says he gets when he talks to her.
“It’s hurtful because I can hear in his voice how much it hurts to be told to [take down the flag]”Sutherland said.” So when [she] and I talk about it, back and forth, it’s frustrating because I know how much she cares about her and how much that means to her. That she has to go through this,â¦ it’s just not fair.
Sutherland says her sister will continue to push the issue forward so that she can once again display the flag without fear of being terminated. But as she faces this ordeal, she says she forgives the school for their sleight of hand. But she told the human resources representative that the incident “left a lasting impression.”
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