Rick Kaufman, a spokesman for the Bloomington School District, said three male students brought the flags onto school property Tuesday morning. He said they were "carrying and waving" the flags in the parking lot as parents dropped students off for class.
Principal Ron Simmons spoke with the boys shortly after the incident and suspended them for three days. Superintendent Les Fujitake affirmed Simmons' decision Tuesday evening despite objections from the boys' parents and other students. School officials declined to release the students' names, citing student privacy policies.
"The Confederate flag is an issue we take seriously regardless of their intent," Kaufman said.
Today, between 25 and 30 Kennedy students staged a protest near the school. Kaufman said several students wore white T-shirts with the three students' names and chanted "let them walk."
Kennedy seniors were on campus this morning for a graduation ceremony rehearsal. School officials asked the protesters to remove the T-shirts before they entered the rehearsal. Kaufman said students complied with the request.
"This doesn't mean they [the three males] won't get their diploma. They've earned that. But graduation is a privilege, not a right," he said.
Bloomington's conduct policies ban students from any school-sponsored activities including graduation during a suspension. Kennedy's student body is made up of more than 40 percent minority students, according to the state Department of Education.
Kaufman said it's unfortunate that the boys' decision resulted in their exclusion from the graduation ceremony, but the ban isn't new.
"We believe and have communicated with students that the Confederate flag represents hatred, bigotry, intolerance, slavery, civil rights issues and discrimination," he said. Kennedy students know they're not allowed to have a Confederate flag on school property because it may violate the district's anti-discrimination rules, he said.
And don't pull the "Free Speech" card on this situation, like so many inbred and (hatefully) ignorant people are attempting to do. In our society, there is no plausibility to saying you are ignorant of the resounding symbolism of the Confederate flag. It stands for hatred, bigotry, intolerance and racism. Which, consequentially, ARE long-standing traditions in the South.
Touting confederate flag, a burning cross, a Nazi armband, a noose, or a white hood are all synonymous in the US. It doesn't matter if you're young or old, from the South or North, or actually harbor any malicious intent. Factor in the reality that 40% of the student body are minorities, and the Seniors were waving the flag with intent and purpose, and you get a deserved sentence.
A Senior with a Confederate flag sticker on the back of their car may just be an ignorant or covertly racist moron. To bring it to school and wave it around, shortly before graduation, is a level of stupidity on par with believing in those ideals or thinking the flag itself stands for anything to be proud of.