Outrage over Missouri student’s Confederate flag face mask has parents demanding action

Local News

OAKVILLE, MO. – A parent tells FOX 2 that a student showed up to school wearing a Confederate flag mask and was allowed to continue through his school day. It was only after students started texting their parents, and parents started calling the school, that administrators started looking into it.  

A video posted on social media shows the white male student wearing the mask inside a classroom.   

“What type of message are you sending to my child by allowing another child to sit in the classroom with this mask on,” parent, Tamica Harding, said. 

Harding is African American. Her daughter was in a 4th period class with the student wearing the mask.  She was hurt, frightened, and intimidated.

Harding told FOX 2 she called the school but two hours passed before she got a response. When an investigation was launched, the student wearing the mask had already left the building for an off-campus program, according to school officials.   

School principal, Tamara Sunkett, an African American woman, sent out the following email to parents: 

“Dear Tigers,  

Yesterday, we received a phone call from one of our parents concerned about a student wearing a confederate flag face covering. One of our assistant principals investigated and found the student had already left campus for the day.   

I want each and every one of our students to know that this is not a situation we take lightly.  

Confederate symbols are steeped in racism. This symbol and any such symbols of disrespect are offensive to our students and our staff and infringe upon our belief that everyone deserves the right to feel safe and respected in our school communities.  

I want to let our students know the matter has been addressed. We have made it quite clear that clothing that creates a disruption, including the confederate flag, is not allowed on our campus.  

Lastly, I want to remind you of who we are as OHS Tigers! This is our house and we will remain unwaveringly committed to being a school of Character where everyone is valued and respected.

Love,  
Principal Sunkett” 

Oakville High School Principal, Tamara Sunkett

Mehlville Schools superintendent, Chris Gaines, a white man, issued the following statement:  

“Yesterday, Oakville High School principals received a phone call from a parent concerned about a student wearing a confederate flag face covering. When an administrator began investigating, he found the student had already left campus for the day. This is not a situation we take lightly. Confederate symbols are steeped in racism. This and any such symbols of disrespect are offensive to students and staff and infringe upon our belief that everyone deserves the right to feel safe and respected in our school communities. The matter has been addressed with the student and the student’s family. When the student returns to campus, he will not be allowed to wear the confederate flag face mask. Our dress code does not support clothing items that create a disruption on our campus.” 

Mehlville Schools Superintendent, Chris Gaines

Parents beyond the school district joined the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League in saying that’s not enough.    

“That’s very unacceptable man,” said Bobby Allford, the parent of a private school student.  “There’s no tolerance for that right now, especially in times like this.” 

“Do they let you wear swastikas?” asked Oakville parent, Michael Munie.  “Everybody knows that you don’t do that, too.  (This is) almost the same thing.” 

“It’s about many layers and many opportunities and many candid and potentially uncomfortable conversations so that this stuff doesn’t happen,” said Karen Aroesty of the ADL.   “(And) when it does … that people don’t let hours go by until they have to run to somebody potentially outside of school for help in advocating against it.” 

School and district officials declined interviews.  A district spokeswoman said the lack of response by teachers remained under investigation and would be addressed as a personnel matter.

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