Superintendent Michael P. Hanlon, Jr
(9-5-20) The Chardon Local School District has created quite a situation this past week.
In an August 31 letter sent to school district residents from Superintendent Michael Hanlon has added to that unrest.
The letter comes after the Chardon Hilltoppers football team displayed the flag while running onto the field ahead of their game last Friday.
As you may be aware, there was a decision by some of our student athletes to carry a blue line American Flag onto the football field on Friday night. Given the turbulent times facing our country right now, this action understandably drew responses on social media and direct communications to district officials.
Based on discussions that ensued over the weekend, it does not appear that this action was motivated by racism, rather a show of support for one of our coaches who serves as a police officer, as well as for the first responders in our community who have developed a special relationship with our school and students in the wake of our school tragedy of February 27, 2012. Nevertheless, it is understandable how this could be interpreted as a racially-motivated action and, therefore, not acceptable in a school community
In a statement sent out by the school board –
The Chardon Board of Education would like to make it clear that we are in full support of Dr. Hanlon’s and the Administration’s decision regarding the football team’s display of the Thin Blue Line flag on the field at last week’s football game. Because it was displayed as part of a pre-game ceremony under the supervision of school staff, it was construed as sanctioned by the school district. Political activity by staff members is not allowable under Board of Education policy.
The Chardon Board of Education respects and values all points of view and has a responsibility to create a safe and inclusive environment for all students. The Administration’s decision regarding this event, and the directive to have a teacher remove a “Black Lives Matter” backdrop from the virtual classroom, are both in keeping with district policy.
In an interesting situation before the Friday night Chardon football game, the school district and the police force are working together to keep two separate ‘rallies’ safe for all involved.
Last night in another letter from the Superintendent –
The District is making available an area on school grounds for a rally planned in support of police and other law enforcement officers. Because the District values and supportsthe rights of individuals to gather and exercise their free speech rights, school leaders worked closely with Chardon Police to locate a Free Speech Zone on the lawn in front of Chardon High School. The District is not a sponsor or participant in the rally.
Chardon Police have been advised of an additional rally planned at Chardon Square in support of social justice.
“I spoke with organizers of both rallies and established expectations for peaceful and responsible demonstrations,”
Ohio Fraternal Order of Police’s president, Gary Wolske, wrote a letter to Chardon Local Schools Superintendent Michael Hanlon Jr. asking him to reconsider-
First, any suggestion –ANY suggestion –that the “Blue Line Flag” could even by interpreted as racially motivated is ill-considered