SC secessionist party questions flag policy at Midlands school
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) --A new policy regarding the display of flags on a school campus was put in place by the administrators at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School.
With the new policy not only are flags not to be regulated by students but also extended to parents as well. Parents are not allowed to have flags on their own personal vehicles when on campus to include while picking their children up from school.
On Confederate Memorial Day of 2016 (May 10), Rhett Ingram was waiting in line to pick up his children from Healthwood Hall. While in line a gentleman walked up to the window of his vehicle and reportedly told him that the small Confederate Battle Flag on the antenna of his tuck was "not welcome." Mr. Ingram did not know the individual who approached him but it turned out to be the headmaster of Heathwood Hall, Chris Hinchey.
There were no policies in place at the time to prohibit the flag therefore when Mr. Ingram returned to pick up his children the flag was still in place.
On Confederate Memorial Day of 2017, Mr. Ingram dropped his daughter off at the school with the Confederate Flag on the antenna of his truck.
His son was with him when he left the school and drove to the State House to participate in the Confederate Memorial Day service that was taking place. One of the members of the Heathwood Hall Board of Trustees followed Mr. Ingram, from the school to the State House. The board member was H. Freeman Belsar who once at the State House, parked behind Mr. Ingram and reportedly approached him and expressed his opinion on the Confederate Flag telling Mr. Ingram that what he was doing was "not right."
This incident eventually led to a conversation between Mr. Ingram and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Heathwood Hall, Rox Pollard.
The two held several conversations electronically, including one conversation in which Mr. Pollard expressed admiration of Confederate soldiers. In one of the emails Mr. Pollard wrote, "I have a lot of Southern heritage too. I have visited the graves of Jackson and Lee and read their biographies. They were fine, honorable men and I have no disagreement with you about them and their character".
After the email was sent, Mr. Pollard agreed with the board to pass the policy which would prohibit Confederate Flags from being displayed on campus by students and parents alike.
The policy states the only flags which may be flown on campus include, "official flags of the United States of America, the State of South Carolina, the Episcopal Church, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, and accredited post-secondary schools (not larger than 12" x 14").
Mr. Ingram was served a "Trespass Notice" on Oct. 2 of this year for picking up his children with the Confederate Flag on his vehicle after the policy was passed.
As a result, Mr. Ingram is now not able to return to the campus without an appointment and written permission from the headmaster.
Below is the letter to the Heathwood families about the new policy.
Dear Heathwood Families,
We are proud of Heathwood’s mission and long heritage as a school community that encourages free expression. Equally important is providing a non-disruptive learning environment that inspires age-appropriate civil discourse. Yet, during politically divisive times, there are symbols that put these missions in conflict.
That’s why we share with you a new policy regarding banners and flags on campus. It better aligns Heathwood’s policies with those of SCISA (South Carolina Independent School Association) and underscores the importance of free expression while simultaneously upholding the safety and comfort of the campus community. Adopted unanimously by Heathwood’s Board of Trustees and administration, the policy is the product of deep and careful deliberation.
If you have questions or concerns about what the policy permits, please reach out to the Division Head in which your child is enrolled. Additionally, the Head of School and members of the Heathwood Hall Board of Trustees stand ready to assist you.
As always, thank you for your support and for the countless ways you make the Heathwood community a strong, vibrant one.
The Heathwood Hall Board of Trustees
Flags and banner policy
The Board and administration desire to ensure that the focus on our campus at all times remains on providing our students with the best possible and least distracting environment in which to learn, develop and grow in a safe, inclusive and age-appropriate manner. Accordingly, students, parents, employees, and guests will not be permitted to fly, display, or wave flags or banners of any size or type at any time while on campus, including on their automobiles, except as follows: (1) official flags of the United States of America, the State of South Carolina, the Episcopal Church, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, and accredited post-secondary schools (not larger than 12" x 14") shall be permitted; and (2) flags, banners and other symbols may be displayed and shown in classroom settings in an educationally insightful manner, under the guidance of qualified staff members. This prohibition does not apply to bumper stickers or magnets (no larger than 4” x 18”) on automobiles, as long as they are not obscene, profane, lewd or vulgar.
Additionally, at sporting and other extracurricular events held on campus and sanctioned by SCISA, official flags and banners of competitor schools will be permitted.
Flags and banners created by students as part of a class or official club are not subject to this policy and may be displayed on campus as approved by the administration and in a manner not in conflict with SCISA’s policy.
The Board expects the members of the Heathwood community and their guests to implement this policy in good faith, but it authorizes the administration to make the final decision regarding the appropriateness of any displays on automobiles, at extracurricular events, and in classroom settings. The Board further authorizes the administration to enforce this policy with appropriate sanctions, to include the withdrawal of the invitation to be on the Heathwood campus.