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Chardon Board of Education supports ban on thin blue line flag at school events

'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.'

CHARDON, Ohio — Chardon Board of Education President Madelon Horvath is making it clear: The board supports the superintendent’s decision to ban the thin blue line flag from school events.

“We understand that the team’s intent was simply to support our community first responders,” Horvath wrote in a statement issued Tuesday on behalf of the board. “We also understand that this action evoked immediate concerns from some members of our local community.”

The controversy ignited following Friday night’s high school football game when a player for the Chardon Hilltoppers ran on the field carrying a thin blue line flag, which is a symbol associated with the Blue Lives Matter movement.

“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,” the board’s statement continues. “Political activity by staff members is not allowable under Board of Education policy. Our support for Dr. Hanlon and the District policy prohibiting political speech by staff members does not diminish the District’s support and appreciation for police and all first responders.”

The board’s statement said they “greatly value our partnership with local enforcement and first responders,” but said they are giving their full support of superintendent Michael Hanlon’s decision to ban the flag. 

“We greatly value our partnership with local law enforcement and first responders,” the board said in a statement. “We agree with Chardon Police Chief Scott Niehus’ statement that the thin blue line flag is perceived differently by different people. For some, it has a political meaning. ... 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."

The Geauga County Commissioner, however, has called for the superintendent’s resignation.

"Mr. Hanlon, you have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you do not carry the compassion, understanding, and leadership quality that is required in your position."

You can read the board’s full statement below: