Teresa Todd | Flag of Distinction or Division?

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

We remember the day. It was Nov. 14, 2019, and the start of the school and work day. I was in the notorious left turn lane on Bouquet Canyon Road and Newhall Ranch Road headed to a business meeting in the industrial center. Sirens screeched by. I waited maybe three or more light cycles as dozens of sheriff patrol vehicles zoomed by. Something dreadful was happening, that much was known. It was unimaginable that a school shooting was in progress in our hometown. 

I will forever be grateful to the law enforcement officers who arrived on site at lightning speed and to the Saugus High School teachers and staff who made heroic efforts to keep children safe. 

Santa Clarita will never forget. And Saugus High will always have a special bond with law enforcement. 

We lost two very innocent lives that day and several wounded who will forever live with the horrors of that moment. 

I remember my dear friend, Cheri Fleming, who brought pizzas and desserts to the families waiting for news at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. Like Cheri, many tried to do what they could to ease the pain and comfort their agonizing souls. 

This is Santa Clarita. We care for each other in times of crisis. 

Fast forward to today. Until recently, the Saugus High School football team rushes the field in a pre-game ritual of carrying flags that have significant meaning to them. Those flags include the American flag, their school flag, the pancake flag (I don’t get that one, but I’m told it’s a football term), and the Thin Blue Line flag honoring law enforcement. 

The last flag mentioned, which was first popularized in the 1950s, originally displayed a thin blue line over a field of black to honor fallen officers. In recent years, the flag has been redesigned as a blue line imposed over a black and white rendition of the American flag. According to an internet search, 12 other nations have followed with black, white or gray versions of their national flag and the thin blue line to show support for law enforcement. 

In my opinion, the flag was never meant to be anything but respectful. However, in the past few years its meaning has been hijacked and taken a life of its own to become a lightning rod of political divisiveness. 

A recent complaint snowballed into school and district administrators banning the football team from carrying the Thin Blue Line flag onto the field. 

This ruling may be acceptable to some, but what about every other flag often displayed in our classrooms? Couldn’t any flag become politically charged and divisive to someone? I totally believe in inclusiveness and freedom of speech – my favorite and most robust lesson to my university students is always on the First Amendment – but let’s treat all points of view fairly and balanced. 

I challenge the William S. Hart Union High School District governing board to create policy without bias, prejudice, personal feelings, or private agendas that respects all points of view and administers a balanced approach regarding flags displayed in classrooms and on campuses. Personally, I look forward to serving our public on the Hart district governing board and addressing this issue – and all issues – head on. 

For myself, I am eternally grateful for our law enforcement officers who not only show up in times of crisis but also spend time on junior and senior high school campuses daily as school resource deputies to help keep our students safe. May we forever stay Saugus Strong. 

Teresa Todd 

Santa Clarita

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