Haas says certain symbols no longer allowed on clothing in schools

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Students in Albemarle County Public Schools will no longer be allowed to wear certain symbols to schools, beginning Tuesday.

Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas sent a letter to students and their families regarding the change on Monday.

In that letter, he explains how the policy has always covered clothing that interferes with education or disrupts classrooms.

That policy will now cover imagery associated with organizations promoting white supremacy, racial division, hatred or violence.

"I have become increasingly concerned that by not taking this action, we will fail to meet our responsibility to provide all students with safe places for learning, nurturing places where their academic, social and emotional development takes precedence," wrote Haas.

This action stems from the events of Aug. 12, 2017, during which some students were injured.

Haas also says the Health Advisory Board says exposure to symbols perceived as discriminatory or threatening in the school setting can affect the physical health of students and their ability to learn.

And federal courts have ruled that Confederate symbols, such as the Confederate flag, on a shirt or jacket can be considered a sign of racial hostility regardless of the intent of the wearer.

"The evidence is clear and it is compelling. Clothing associated with hate groups has the potential to disrupt our learning environments by bringing symbols that represent fear and intimidation of others into our classrooms. Places, in fact, where students are required to be in close proximity to those who would wear such clothing," wrote Haas. "I want our focus to be on counseling students. I know from personal experience that talking with students who wear such clothing invariably results in their voluntary decision to no longer do so; most often, they are unaware of its impact on others."

He has also posted a video on YouTube with a longer explanation of this decision. To watch that video, click on the link in the Related Links box.

A copy of the letter sent to families is also available in the Related Documents box.

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