Student sent home for wearing hat with Confederate insignia amid new policy

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WCAV) — UPDATE:

A Virginia high school student has been sent home for wearing a hat bearing a Confederate insignia.

News outlets report that the Albemarle County Public Schools spokesman Phil Giaramita says it happened Tuesday, the first day of the school system's new dress code banning hate symbols.

The Western Albemarle High School student was asked to remove the hat and refused. The student's father supported his son's decision and signed him out of school. Giaramita says it was the only incident related to the dress code change on Tuesday.

Superintendent Matt Haas has cited the deadly Unite the Right rally, the region's history of slavery and resistance to integration and examples of racism in local schools as reasons for the ban.

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Students in Albemarle County Public Schools will no longer be allowed to wear certain symbols to schools.

Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas sent a letter to students and their families regarding the change on Monday.

In that letter, he explains how the policy has always covered clothing that interferes with education or disrupts classrooms.

That policy will now cover imagery associated with organizations promoting white supremacy, racial division, hatred or violence.

“I have become increasingly concerned that by not taking this action, we will fail to meet our responsibility to provide all students with safe places for learning, nurturing places where their academic, social and emotional development takes precedence,” wrote Haas.

Haas also says the Health Advisory Board says exposure to symbols perceived as discriminatory or threatening in the school setting can affect the physical health of students and their ability to learn.

And federal courts have ruled that Confederate symbols, such as the Confederate flag, on a shirt or jacket, can be considered a sign of racial hostility regardless of the intent of the wearer.

"The evidence is clear and it is compelling. Clothing associated with hate groups has the potential to disrupt our learning environments by bringing symbols that represent fear and intimidation of others into our classrooms. Places, in fact, where students are required to be in close proximity to those who would wear such clothing," wrote Haas. "I want our focus to be on counseling students. I know from personal experience that talking with students who wear such clothing invariably results in their voluntary decision to no longer do so; most often, they are unaware of its impact on others."

He has also posted a video on YouTube with a longer explanation of this decision, which can be watched above.