- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

DENVER — Students at Shaw Heights Middle School wore Old Glory on their T-shirts without fear of reprisal yesterday after their principal bowed to community pressure to drop the school’s flag ban.

Principal Myla Shepherd canceled the ban late Thursday night after an outcry from parents, students and state leaders, including Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, who said the school rule violated state law.

About 200 students and parents braved a spring snowstorm yesterday morning outside Shaw Heights to celebrate the lifting of the ban. The rally was originally planned to protest the revision to the dress code, which prohibited students from wearing camouflage, depictions of the U.S. flag and “clothing that makes a political statement.”

Ms. Shepherd said she changed the dress code March 31 after nationwide immigration rallies led to “some unrest and increased tensions among students.” Some students taunted each other with U.S. and Mexican flags, while several dozen students wore camouflage one day in support of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Another Colorado school, Skyline High School in Longmont, enacted a ban on flag displays after some students threw U.S. and Mexican flags in each other’s faces. Skyline also lifted the prohibition yesterday.

The about-face came shortly after Mr. Suthers sent letters to the schools Thursday along with copies of the state statute, which states that the right to display the U.S. flag “shall not be infringed with respect to the display: (a) On an individual’s person; (b) Anywhere on an individual’s personal or real property.”

“While schools can and should act to prevent conduct by students that interferes with the education process, their remedy must be narrowly tailored and cannot include a general ban on displaying the American flag,” Mr. Suthers said.

Adams County School District 50 released a statement saying the ban had been lifted “due to the exemplary behavior of the students … and the progress made throughout the week,” as well as the letter from Mr. Suthers.

The Shaw Heights ban prompted an outcry on talk radio and in the state legislature. Earlier this week, the state Senate passed a bill that would deny state grants to schools that prohibit respectful displays of the Stars and Stripes.

Tension over the ban at Shaw Heights crested Thursday after a half-dozen students were suspended for wearing T-shirts with the flag and the “United States Marine Corps” logo. Several students and parents appeared on “The Caplis and Silverman Show” on KHOW-AM to denounce the rule.

Eric Golgart, whose sixth-grade daughter, Katie, was suspended Thursday for wearing a Marines T-shirt, said the superintendent promised to expunge the suspensions from the students’ records.

Still, Mr. Golgart said he wanted to see Ms. Shepherd resign her post and issue an apology to the U.S. Marine Corps.

“As soon as she started suspending kids, it got personal,” said Mr. Golgart. “One girl who was suspended has a brother and sister-in-law fighting in Iraq. She’s been wearing these shirts all year.”

At the Shaw Heights rally, Patriot Concrete Pumping, a local firm, made a surprise appearance in support of the students and handed out free T-shirts. Some state legislators also came to lend their support.

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