Orange County schools committee proposes dress code to ban symbolic speech that intimidates, could include Confederate flags


HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Orange County Schools are a step closer to a revamped dress code after months of discussions about banning the confederate flag in the district.

During a policy committee meeting Wednesday, members put their vote in perspective.

“Times have changed,” said Orange County Schools board chair Stephen Halkiotis. “If people don’t understand times have changed, you better go see a doctor pretty quick and get some medication to control yourself because you’re gonna have problems.”

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The new policy prohibits students from wearing clothes that are disruptive, or could reasonably intimidate other students.

“It’s a climate that we have to be sensitive to when we make decisions for our students,” said Superintendent Todd Wirt.

“It is absolutely a step forward, so I’m glad they have addressed that,” said Latarndra Strong.

Strong was one of many parents who brought this issue up to the school board after seeing students wear Confederate flags.

She’s not totally pleased with the new policy, saying she wanted the new dress code to specifically ban the Confederate flag.

The new policy states, that decision is left to the principal to decide if the symbolic speech is disruptive or intimidating.

“If the staff member and the principal doesn’t see it as reasonable intimidation, then we’re back at the same place,” said Strong.

If this dress code is approved, every school in the district would determine, individually, what is prohibited.

While the principal can immediately tell a student to remove any disruptive clothing, it wouldn’t be banned from that school until the superintendent approves it, after consulting with board members.

While strong sees it as some progress, she’s optimistic about the future.

“I’m going to be hopeful, and see what happens in the coming year,” she said.

The board members are planning to hold an official vote on this dress code on August 14 at its next board meeting.

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