Central Minnesota high school students raised their flags Wednesday to protest a school ban on flying them. And they won.
Administrators at Rocori High School — which serves students from Rockville, Cold Spring and Richmond — initiated the ban at the start of this school year after students last spring flew the Confederate flag on vehicles parked at the school. School officials said the flags were offensive and caused concern among other students.
On Wednesday, high school students protested the ban, which was scheduled to go into effect next week. About 25 vehicles flying American flags were parked in the school lot, school officials said.
By the time school let out on Wednesday, student leaders and school administrators reached a compromise, and the ban on flying flags or banners was removed from the student handbook. Incidents caused by offensive flags or banners would be handled on a “case-by-case” basis, Rocori Superintendent Scott Staska said.
When school officials decided on the flag ban, they said the issue wasn’t with students who flew the American flag. But a ban had to apply to “all or none.”
“Either all flags can be displayed and flown or none of the flags can be accepted,” officials said in a statement explaining the ban. “While the Rocori School District preference would be to have respectful, appropriate and positive displays, the fact that this was not the outcome in the spring resulted in the action to limit the displays.”
The controversy over the ban that prompted the protest and discussions on Wednesday raised awareness over the issue that some symbols can be harmful, Staska said. “The issue is about respect.”
Rocori senior Cole Staneart, who organized the protest over the ban that would have kept him from flying the American flag from his truck to honor those who serve in the military, said that he understands the concerns over the Confederate flag and that he will help school officials keep it off the campus.
“If I see students [flying] a Confederate flag, I’ll ask them to take it down,” he said. “It’s not appropriate.”
Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788