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Geauga Co. Commissioner wants Chardon superintendent to step down over thin blue line flag ban

thin blue line flag
Posted at 3:27 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 15:34:57-04

CHARDON, Ohio — Geauga County Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri is calling on Chardon Superintendent Michael Hanlon to resign after he banned the "thin blue line" American flag in a school setting.

During last Friday's football game, Chardon's football team carried the flag onto the field to support one of its coaches, who is a police officer.

Hanlon said school district policy does not permit engagement in political activity, and as a result, the "thin blue line" flag will not be a part of any future pre-game activities at Chardon athletic events.

On Tuesday, Spidalieri sent a letter to Hanlon saying that his actions frustrated him and asked the superintendent to step down.

"As a commissioned law enforcement officer for almost 30 years and still actively commissioned I am appalled that someone in your position would take a stance that does not genuinely recognize the courage of these young men," Spidalieri wrote.

To read Spidalieri's letter, click here.

Hanlon has not yet responded publicly.

In a statement to the community on Monday, Hanlon had said the incident understandably drew responses on social media and direct communications to district officials.

Based on discussions that ensued over the weekend, it does not appear that this action was motivated by racism, rather a show of support for one of our coaches who serves as a police officer, as well as for the first responders in our community who have developed a special relationship with our school and students in the wake of our school tragedy of February 27, 2012. Nevertheless, it is understandable how this could be interpreted as a racially-motivated action and, therefore, not acceptable in a school community.

Our school district is fundamentally anti-racist as reflected in Board of Education policies ranging from Equal Employment Opportunity to matters of student and staff activities. Our goal is to ensure that all students, staff and community members are provided the same opportunities to grow and learn in Chardon Schools and that this occurs in an environment that values the contributions of every school community member. Our staff members work to support that goal in our classrooms and through lessons learned within the scope of extracurricular activities.

RELATED: Chardon Local Schools bans 'thin blue line' flag after football player carries it on field