It's official -- the U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into "Redneck Day," a day of school-sanctioned festivities at Queen Creek High School that included a student wearing a Confederate flag like a cape.
The Reverend Jarrett Maupin, who filed a complaint against the school district over the racially hostile environment created by the event, was pleased at the news of the investigation, calling it a "moral victory."
However, in a letter to Maupin, Angela Martinez-Gonzalez, the Supervisory General Attorney for the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, noted that while they are investigating his allegations, they aren't going to include in that investigation the display of the Confederate flag because that "concerns rights protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution."
That doesn't sit well with Maupin and other civil rights' activists. Not. At. All.
"While I'm glad they are investigating, the letter itself is a permission slip for racist parents to send their children to school wearing any symbol they want?" Maupin says. "To me, there is no difference between a confederate flag and a swastika flag. Is the Department of Education saying it's okay for a young neo-nazi to wear a swastika flag? It's clear to me that the mere presence of the confederate flag and the swastika flag creates an atmosphere of racial hostility."
But, one thing at a time.
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Maupin says that he hopes "District leaders will demonstrate what racial cooperation and harmony looks like by working with leaders from communities of color to change policies and prevent "Redneck Day" or any like it from happening again."
As for the sentiment that draping oneself with the confederate flag -- at school -- raises First Amendment concerns, Maupin plans on asking the Black/Brown Coalition of Arizona for its support in tacking that issue.