The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board is slated to address the “Thin Blue Line” flag controversy with discussion of three items Wednesday, two of which would serve as guidelines for the district and students in regard to displaying flags, banners, symbols and other insignia, and the third would serve as a way to honor public servants in the community.
The Hart district’s governing board has yet to make any decisions or take action on whether to not allow the Thin Blue Line flag from sporting events, an issue that arose after the Saugus High School football team carried out the flag as the team took the field for a game versus Golden Valley High School as part of its pre-game ritual.
Since then, the flag has remained an ongoing controversy in the community, as it drew a sharp line between those who view it as an appropriate symbol of support for law enforcement and those who view it as a divisive symbol of far-right political extremism.
The governing board took the first step in addressing the issue at the last governing board meeting on Nov. 17, as they were able to properly agenized the item and discussed it openly in public.
On Wednesday, the governing board is scheduled to discuss two board policies related to the controversy. The first will be a board policy regarding school and district flagpoles.
According to the agenda, the district has been presented with issues involving the flying of flags or banners. This issue has arisen in conjunction with requests that certain commemorative or symbolic flags be flown, or not be flown, on flagpoles at school sites and district properties.
District administration will present governing board members with two options to consider.
The first option would continue the district’s prior practice of only flying the American and state flags on district flagpoles while the second option would outline procedures for authorizing commemorative flags and banners to be flown temporarily together with the American and state flags.
District staff recommends the board to adopt and approve one of the options. However, the governing board may choose neither of those options and ask district staff to come back with other options at another time.
The second item will be further discussion regarding potential board policy related to student conduct at extracurricular and cocurricular events with regard to the displaying of flags, banners, symbols or other insignia at school-sponsored events.
According to the agenda, the purpose of the discussion is to gather feedback from members of the governing board, so that district staff can prepare new or revised policy. The governing board is not expected to take action on this item.
District staff will present two options for the governing board to discuss.
The first option reiterates the district’s prior practice of only displaying the American and state flags along with flags, banners, symbols or other insignia that involves or promotes the school, the district, team, club, organization or the other specific event or sport. The second option would call for the governing board to authorize or deny specific requests, such as the Thin Blue Line flag, for exceptions to the first option.
Lastly, the governing board will hear about a new advisory committee for the purpose of honoring public servants.
Each of the governing board members would invite one individual to serve on the advisory committee. Then Hart district Superintendent Mike Kuhlman would invite additional members to the committee, which will include an administrator, a teacher, a classified representative, a parent and a single representative from law enforcement, first responders or the military.
Additionally, five students from across the district would be invited to participate on the committee. Community members would also be able to provide input to the advisory committee.