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Suspensions over Confederate flags upheld

Published: Sep. 16, 2011 at 9:30 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2011 at 6:21 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - The Lawrence County Schools Discipline Committee upheld the two-day suspensions of two students Friday. The students appealed after they had Confederate flags on a homecoming parade float.

Superintendent Heath Grimes said four boys were punished by the principal, in part, because the students hid the flags until the parade left school grounds. 16-year-old Blake Nelson drove the truck in the Lawrence County High School parade. A video shot by a family friend shows a rebel flag on the truck in plain sight before the parade started.

Nelson said he and the others were unfairly penalized after the fact, and he said school officials did see the flags and did nothing to stop them from displaying them.

"I don't think that's true because we had them on there before they came to judge the float. Other principals came and looked at it. They didn't say anything. The head principal, I think she was trying to take care of herself," said Nelson.

Nelson's father said he felt school officials were covering themselves after several people in the African-American community said they were offended by the Confederate flags.

"I said as much in the meeting, that if nobody had thought it was offensive. Nothing would have been said. I mean, my son had to go to her and say I was the one holding the flag. Then she proceeded to do something," said Nelson.

Blake Nelson will serve his second day of suspension Monday. The other student who appealed served his punishment before the appeal hearing.

Lawrence County's Superintendent issued this statement:

"The Lawrence County School Board Discipline Committee met today in regards to appeals filed by parents of two students at Lawrence County High School.  The appeal deals with the punishment issued by the principal of the school.  The students were suspended from school for two days for defiance of a school board employee's authority.  The committee's sole function was to determine if the principal's decision was justified pursuant to board policies and code of conduct.  The committee upheld the principal's decision in these matters." - Heath Grimes

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