As a follow-up to Chardon Local Schools' August 31, 2020 Letter to the Community.pdf, the Chardon Board of Education released the following statement on the evening of September 1, 2020:
Chardon Local School District values and respects the police and all first responders. Our relationship with our local officers is stronger than most, given their fast response and the bravery they demonstrated on February 27, 2012 and in the aftermath of that tragedy.
We greatly value our partnership with local law enforcement and first responders. 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 political meaning.
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.
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.
We understand that the team’s intent was simply to support our community first responders. We also understand that this action evoked immediate concerns from some members of our local community.
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.
Dr. Hanlon and our administrators have been working tirelessly all summer to make sure our students and staff are able to come back safely to school. There was considerable concern that our athletes would not even be able to play at all, but they are playing and we are doing everything we can to make this school year successful. It is our hope that the community will understand both our obligation to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students and our dedication to handling this situation in keeping with school policy.
Thank you for your understanding of this sensitive issue.
Madelon Horvath, President
Chardon Board of Education