Confederate flag ban request leads to an update in Bismarck Public Schools policy

Bismarck Public Schools
Bismarck Public Schools(KFYR-TV)
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 7:18 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The Confederate flag debate usually happens far from here, but it recently caught the attention of a Bismarck Public School student, because she saw students wearing it at her school.

She took the matter to the School Board, and the result was an update in school policy.

Bismarck Public School student Marianna Miller took a stand for what she believed in at the January 25 school board meeting.

“There was this girl who confronted the girl who wore the confederate flag hoodie and then the next day after confronting her she was circled by a group of her friends, of the girl who was wearing the confederate flag hoodies friends and threatened, and it just made me really uncomfortable,” said Miller.

Miller submitted a request to the school board to ban the Confederate flag so that nobody could wear it or fly the flag in any BPS school.

She was heard.

" I was just extremely happy, and I was extremely grateful that they listened, and they took into account their students’ feelings and not every school board does that. Not every superintendent does that. They don’t always listen to their students and I was just extremely grateful that this school board did, and they were very proactive, and I really really appreciate it,” said Miller.

In response, Superintendent Jason Hornbacher updated the student dress code policies, prohibiting all displays of inappropriate content.

“When items on display can be reasonably forecast to either materially disrupt the educational environment or infringe upon the rights of other students to access and participate in a safe and welcome educational environment they will be prohibited,” said Hornbacher.

The hot-button issue has been a rallying cry for some who claim it’s about free speech, but Hornbacher doesn’t believe free speech is being violated here.

“We are very interested in protecting the free speech of students, but we will balance that in Bismarck schools against the disruption of our education environments and when there is a disruption, we will prohibit materials,” said Hornbacher.

Miller said a lesson she hopes everyone takes away from this experience is don’t be afraid to speak up.

The new language has been added to the handbook and principals are relaying that information to their staff.

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