Johnston addresses school flag issue

Dr. Shane Johnston, director of Jefferson County Schools, issued a statement Monday about an incident that happened last week concerning two students who were displaying American flags on their backpacks.

Johnston said that the actions of an administrator who told the students not to display the flags was out of line.

“Jefferson County Schools remains committed to respecting the rights of all students and certainly is grateful for the United States Flag, patriotism, and those men and women that have served this nation,” he said in a statement. “This is especially true in education where the United States of America is one of the few countries in the world that is committed to educating all students.”

Johnston said the incident came to his attention last Thursday when he heard a student had been suspended for displaying an American flag.

His office investigated and found the incident occurred between two students and a school administrator.

Johnston did not disclose what school the incident occurred at.

According to the statement, the two students were stopped in the hall and asked to place small American flags they had on their backpacks inside the backpacks.

The students questioned the administrator, which led to a conference in the front office and one of the students was disciplined due to violation of school rules.

Though the disciplining of the student did not directly relate to the flags being displayed, Johnston said he felt like it was not in line with the values of the school system. He said the student will face no consequences.

“It was in my judgement that the whole issue prompted from the original request of the administrator for the students to place the flags out of sight and, therefore, any consequences set forth toward the student has been removed and further steps have been taken with school personnel to keep a similar incident from occurring again,” Johnston said.

He also said an apology has been issued to the parents of the student.

“I also had a conversation with the family involved and offered my apologies for the events that transpired,” he said. “Additionally, I assured the family that the school system was committed to each student being educated in an environment that is warm, safe, and promotes academic excellence.”

Johnston said Tuesday that there was a misunderstanding and he would be having a private conversation with the school administrator.