By Guy Page
The Black Lives Matters flag will no longer be flown at Orange Southwest School District schools, including Randolph Union High School, according to a new flag policy approved at the April 13 school board meeting.
As presented in the meeting agenda (pg. 18), The new policy reads: “It is the policy of the District that only the Vermont and United States flags may be flown on the flagpoles. It is the policy of the District to encourage free speech in other appropriate locations and circumstances.”
The decision was met by concerns from Black Lives Matters supporters. One Randolph resident and meeting attendee observed: “the BLM flag has been flying for 2 years here, and the BIPOC community was out in force of about 10 to give voice to lament having it come down.”
It is unclear when the BLM flag will be raised and taken down for the final time.
Like many Vermont school districts, OSSU began flying the BLM flag after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since then, some school boards have been asking how long the flag should fly, and should districts have flag policies. BLM critics say the organization is fundamentally Marxist and that its leaders have misused some of the millions of dollars it collected in donations, including purchasing a $6 million mansion. Supporters say the flag represents fair and equal treatment of all Americans regardless of skin color or other minority status.
The Vermont Legislature involved itself in local flag-flying policies when the House Government Operations committee, in an effort led by Barre lawmaker Peter Anthony (D), eliminated a charter change approved by City voters: “The City of Barre shall fly only the City, State, United States, and POW/MIA flags.” This charter change would have banned the BLM flag from the city flag pole, removing a highly contentious issue in City Council discussions and elections in recent years.
The rest of the House went along with the Gov Ops changes, and the city charter change passed the House without the flag provision. However, the Senate restored the original flag policy as approved by city voters. The bill is now back in House Government Operations, awaiting efforts at reconciling the House and Senate versions.