The Albemarle County School Board will soon discuss whether to ban Confederate imagery from its student dress code.

School Board member Katrina Callsen suggested including the topic in the agenda for an upcoming meeting at end of the board’s budget work session Thursday evening.

“I think we need to discuss a ban on the Confederate flag at a meeting,” Callsen said. “I have emailed [about this] a lot, and I think you guys know my frustration level.”

School board member Graham Paige said he also was frustrated that the board had not discussed the topic outright.

School Board Chairman Jonno Alcaro said in an interview that the discussion would likely take place during the School Board’s next regular meeting, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 14.

On Tuesday, the School Board plans to hold a public hearing on the budget for the 2019-2020 academic year. The School Board is expected to vote on the budget at a work session on Feb. 5.

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Since early 2018, numerous representatives of the Hate-Free Schools Coalition of Albemarle County have spoken at School Board meetings to demand the ban on Confederate imagery.
Last summer, the School Board opted to postpone changes to the dress code until the school division developed a comprehensive anti-racism policy. However, subsequent drafts of the policy have not included specific guidance for the Confederate symbols issue.

In a Wednesday email to other members of the School Board, Callsen wrote: “The punting of the issue was hinged on the rationale that the anti-racism policy might address the Confederate flag debate. It does not.”

Callsen said in the email that she believed the board’s decision to not discuss a ban on the Confederate flag appeared “punitive in nature” or “avoidant.”

“Many of the public speakers are correct in their assessment that an issue that has been brought up repeatedly at every meeting for close to a year … has not been discussed on our agenda,” Callsen wrote.

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Amanda Moxham, a co-founder of Hate-Free Schools, said the coalition did not expect amendments to the dress code to immediately change the culture of the school division.
“But it is a start to making an anti-racist statement, and it starts hard conversations that need to be had,” Moxham said.

The Charlottesville School Board in November passed a resolution to prohibit students from wearing clothing with Confederate imagery. The resolution also applies to “the Nazi swastika or … images and language associated with the Ku Klux Klan and other white nationalist groups.”