Kerrie Frisinger, Ithaca Journal (NY), April 8, 2006
ITHACA — In a letter sent to parents this week, Ithaca High School administrators have banned the display of Confederate flag insignia on any clothing, bags or other items students have brought to school previously.
“We have found that the display of the flag in such forms has caused and continues to cause feelings of ill will,” reads the letter, dated April 3 and signed by Principal Joseph Wilson. “Such feelings in turn have led to disruptions to our operations and educational process.”
Previously, because of fights on campus, the high school banned bandanas or other items of clothing that signify allegiance to certain gangs. Now, altercations are breaking out between students prohibited from wearing gang apparel and those showing up with Confederate symbols, Pastel said.
Legal precedent leaves schools a narrow window for banning items of clothing: Evidence of disruption must exist. In the absence of disruption, courts have ruled that schools have violated students’ First Amendment rights for prohibiting certain items.