Howard County Times
Howard County

Two students bring Confederate flags to Glenelg High School

Two Glenelg High School students came to school Wednesday with Confederate flags draped over their shoulders, Howard County schools spokeswoman Rebecca Amani-Dove said.

The students were asked to put the flags away before school began, Amani-Dove said.


She would not say whether the students were disciplined for the display, which comes the day after school Superintendent Renee Foose issued a statement after a Glenelg student displayed the Confederate flag at a football game between Glenelg and River Hill High School last Friday at River Hill in Clarksville.

Amani-Dove said the flag was temporarily displayed in the back of the stands during Friday's game. She said Glenelg administrators responded as soon as they saw the flag and asked the student to take it down. School system officials said on Tuesday that the student, who was not identified, had been disciplined.


On Wednesday, Amani-Dove would not comment on specific disciplinary or administrative actions taken against any of three students who displayed the flags, but said: "Carrying a flag, in and of itself, is not a violation of the code of conduct."

A Glenelg assistant principal referred all questions to the school system's central office.

According to the code of conduct, students can be disciplined for "behavior or dress that interferes with the learning environment" or "the safe and orderly environment" of the school. The code states that punishment can range from a verbal reprimand to expulsion.

On Tuesday, County Executive Ken Ulman said: "Public displays of the Confederate flag evoke division, hate and subjugation -- precisely the opposite of the values we hold in Howard County, and in Maryland. We must teach our kids why this is such a hurtful symbol to so many people.  We must fight against injustice and intolerance in any form, especially at our schools."

On Wednesday, Vicky Cutroneo, whose daughter is a sophomore at Glenelg High School, called the decision to display the Confederate flag "a poor choice," but didn't think it was racially motivated.

Though she doesn't know the student who brought the flag to the River Hill-Glenelg football game, she said friends had called him a "good kid."

Cutroneo said the flag likely played on a stereotype among other schools that Glenelg students are "rednecks."

"Glenelg is a very rural school," she said. Other schools "wear camo to our games."

She said she wished the incident had been handled less publicly.


"It clearly wasn't a schoolwide thing," she said. "It was an isolated incident. I thought it should have been handled a little more privately.

"It's just giving Glenelg this horrible name, like they're racists or something," she added.

Asked to weigh in on Wednesday, state Sen. Allan Kittleman, the Republican candidate for county executive whose district includes Glenelg, said he was "saddened" to learn about both incidents.

"It is unfortunate that a student in Howard County would use the Confederate flag to make a statement of this nature," Kittleman said.
But, "it is important not to have the actions of one person be seen as representative of the entire Glenelg community," he said.
"I applaud County Executive Ken Ulman's response and Superintendent Renee Foose's quick action to investigate this incident and show restraint in dealing with this very sensitive and delicate issue."

Del. Warren Miller, also a Republican representing the Glenelg area, said he had seen some community discussion about the incident online. He said it was within the school system's purview to decide how to react.

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"If you believe in free speech, that's one side of the argument. And if you have concerns that the people displaying the flag were doing it to be hateful then that's the other side of the discussion," he said of the incident.

"You can drive around out here in a couple locations and see Confederate flags, southern flags flying up on flagpoles," he continued. "I am not going to question the intent of people flying them, but clearly they feel comfortable flying them and they have no issue."


In Foose's statement Tuesday, she said the school system has policies that "support a culture that is intolerant of hateful and disruptive behaviors, words, and symbols."

She went on to say: "To many of us, the Confederate flag is a powerful symbol of racism, hatred, and unspeakable acts against humanity."

Foose also said Tuesday that the incident presented "a teachable moment" for the school system. Foose did not comment on Wednesday morning's incident. 
Amani-Dove said there is no "prescriptive lesson plan" made in response to the incidents, but that teachers are trained on how to approach "controversial issues."

"We have a very strong community that has a rich tradition, history, of welcoming diversity and welcoming divergent perspectives of being inclusive," she said. "It's raising questions, and it has sparked a community dialogue. And that is something as a school system we are respectful of and willing to acknowledge."

Amani-Dove said officials do not think the incidents are indicative of a racial divide in the school. She added that the school system does not have safety concerns.

Glenelg High School had 1,271 students enrolled for the 2013-14 school year, according to the school's website. According to the school, 81.2 percent of the students are white, 7 percent Asian, 4.5 percent black and 3.2 percent Hispanic.

Amanda Yeager contributed to this story.