Norwin resident seeks racial sensitivity and diversity training for school staff after students wear Confederate flag clothing

A Norwin resident upset by two high school students wearing Confederate flag attire last week wants the district to consider implementing racial sensitivity and diversity inclusion training programs.

LaSchalle Armstrong of North Huntingdon asked school officials on Monday to consider running racial sensitivity training for staff, who oversee school buildings, as well as training on including diversity in every school. Armstrong offered to help with this training or provide referrals.

Per meeting procedures, neither trustees nor school board members responded to Armstrong at the meeting.

Board Chairman Brian Carlton declined to comment on the request afterward.

Superintendent Jeff Taylor could not be reached for comment.

“This Confederate flag symbolizes a statement of racism. This flag is used by white supremacists and used for a racial bullying factor,” Armstrong said during a public commentary portion of the virtual school board meeting. The flag symbolizes a South that fought to maintain slavery, she noted.

She could not be reached for further comment.

Armstrong said it was his daughter who told the administration on Oct. 11 that two students wore the clothes on ‘Merica Monday as part of Norwin’s Homecoming Week celebrations. The students had been encouraged to wear red, white and blue to show their support for the United States. Taylor said the administration responded quickly and the students changed their clothes.

Photos of the students wearing Confederate flag-style clothing circulated on social media and were sent to Pittsburgh-area newspapers and television stations.

An opposing view was offered by Deanna Betras of North Huntingdon, who told the council she was protesting what she saw as unequal treatment of students “who seek to express themselves and their beliefs through the clothes they wear.

These students have been singled out, while other students are allowed and encouraged to wear clothes that are political and offensive to others, Betras said. She criticized the district for sending what she called a “mixed message” and unfairly applying arbitrary rules.

“The Confederate flag is offensive to some. The BLM (Black Lives Matter) banner is offensive to some. God is offensive to some. Atheists are offensive to some,” Betras said.

Either the school district should ban all clothing with political symbolism or allow students to wear such clothing, Betras said.

It’s not the school district’s job “to determine what constitutes an offensive political position,” Betras said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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