Daniel Behm, the superintendent of the Forest Hills Public Schools in Michigan, apparently thinks the flag representing the original 13 American colonies is an image of “hate.”
At a football game on September 9 where Forest Hills Central visited Ottawa Hills, several students from the former carried the Betsy Ross flag, in addition to a “TRUMP — Make America Great Again” banner.
Behm received a parent complaint about the students, which in turn led him to penning a “letter to the community” denouncing the students’ actions.
“And to wave a historical version of our flag, that to some symbolizes exclusion and hate, injects hostility and confusion to an event where no one intended to do so,” he wrote.
Behm continued with an apology: “To our gracious hosts — the students, families, staff, and community of Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills High School and Grand Rapids Public Schools — and to the student-athletes, coaches, officials, and supporters of both teams, we are truly sorry. These actions are not characteristic of our schools, our staff, our students, or our community, and they represent a lack of knowledge.”
Forest Hills Public Schools released a statement that said the students wouldn’t be disciplined for the Betsy Ross flag and “it will be used as a teachable moment.”
The district said if the act occurs again, “Each situation would be addressed individually and in the context in which it occurs.”
Tim Bowen, who sells historical flags for the Little Rock, Arkansas company Flagandbanner.com, called the condemnation of the Betsy Ross flag “deplorable.”
“It is a historical flag. It was never used as a symbol of hate,” Bowen said. “This person needs to take a history lesson.”
Monica Scott at MLive reports that Ottawa Hills HS is a predominately black school and that “GRPS school leaders, parents and community members found the presentation of the flags […] to be inappropriate.”
Scott also notes the “Betsy Ross flag is controversial, in part, because it is embraced by white nationalist organizations whose members claim a superior birthright.”
Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal thanked Behm, saying, “I cannot deny the hurt, disrespect, and outrage that I and so many others in this community felt about these actions that took place in our backyard, in our home at Houseman Field.
“This type of behavior should not and will not be tolerated in our stadium or schools – nor should it in any across our state and nation.”
h/t to Derek Draplin.