NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A vote just occurred in Northampton to ban the Confederate flag in schools. This vote comes after recent incidents at JFK Middle School that prompted some students to come forward, urging the school committee to address the situation.
John Provost, the superintendent of Northampton Public Schools, told Western Mass News some students said they don't feel safe in school after seeing the Confederate flag in the hallways and over zoom.
"It’s a symbol that has an incredible history of hate," Provost said.
Students at JFK Middle School in Northampton said they have seen the Confederate flag in hallways and the background of Zoom classes.
"We have students reporting that they don’t feel safe at school from being exposed to the Confederate flag, and we also have concerns for the safety of students displaying the flag," he explained.
Provost told Western Mass News the principal of JFK sent a video to the school community that explained why the flag is offensive. That's when Provost said a Facebook group created called “JFK White Student Union," an anonymous group, posted about protecting civil liberties.
"Massachusetts has a strong protection for students freedom of expression, but that protection ends when those expressions become disruptive to the learning environment," he said.
The situation is sparking a vote from the school committee on whether or not to ban the symbol from school besides when used in the curriculum. One parent told Western Mass News the vote is just a start to tackling a bigger issue.
"I think it’s one step in addressing it. So I hope we come together and do the right thing, but again it’s just a small step," said Northampton parent Tammy Bringaze.
She said the outcome of this vote is important for the future of city schools.
"I think we need to send this message that this has gone on for too long. It should’ve never happened first and foremost, but we have to take a step. We have to make it very clear that these things are wrong, and we have to send a clear message to our kids," she added.
Western Mass News reached out to the Facebook group but has not heard back. The Northampton School Committee voted to ban the Confederate flag and other hateful symbols from the city schools.