What started as a simple ban on flags being flown on vehicles in Dickson County quickly escalated to a national story after a report the county had banned the use of all flags.
In a story from WKRN, a Nashville news station, Director of Schools D. Weeks said a student came to school on the first day of class with both the Confederate battle and American flags displayed on his vehicle. After the recent controversy about the confederate flag, Weeks said, the district decided not to allow any flags to be permitted on vehicles while on school property.
The move, however, translated to many as a ban on all flags, including the American flag, something Weeks said was simply untrue.
The false rumor made its rounds through the national media as The Washington Times, AOL, Fox News and CNN, as well as many conservative blogs, picked up and ran with the non-story.
While the phone lines in Dickson County were lighting up with disgruntled callers, the district responded with a 1,700-word response clarifying the ban.
“The intended news story was supposed to explain student expectations for behavior and addressing those behaviors when they distract, disrupt, or divide students,” the statement read. “The story instead was transformed and became about how a school system had banned the American flag. How in the United States of America can a public school justify the banning of the symbol of freedom and democracy? As ridiculous at it sounds, some groups of people believe that could happen, and as a result of the news media’s coverage, they became frightened that it had occurred.
“Unfortunately, recent actions to ensure student expectations were communicated clearly have resulted in distractions of their own, and for that a sincere apology is due to the citizens of Dickson County starting with our County Mayor, local government servants, elected officials, all teachers and staff, and to the good people of Dickson County.”
Uproar surrounding the Confederate battle flag began shortly after the June 17 shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine people were shot inside of an African American church.
Shortly after the shooting, many turned their attention to the Confederate battle flag that, at the time, was flown over the South Carolina statehouse. The flag was eventually removed. However, Confederate flag rallies continue throughout the South as many display the flag not as a symbol of racism, but one of Southern heritage and pride.
To view the entire statement from Dickson County Schools, go here.