Fate of Three Rivers schools’ proposed classroom displays policy to be decided next week

A decision will be made at an upcoming Three Rivers Board of Education meeting on whether to accept a new policy regarding flags and other displays in classrooms. 

In December 2021 the school board voted unanimously to lift the district’s temporary Pride flag ban, which garnered both national and international attention. Though the ban was removed, the board announced plans to formulate a classroom display policy while utilizing community feedback and the potential aid of a third-party facilitator. 

The process has taken well over a year now, and a first reading of the potential policy occurred on October 17, 2022. The policy in question was written by Neola, an educational consulting firm which focuses solely on board policies. According to the website, Neola’s policies “provide students and staff with the tools they need to succeed, with every policy smartly designed to secure the quality of teaching and learning, and provide direction to enhance the school environment.”

School board President Erin Nowak spoke to Watershed Voice regarding the policy developed by Neola. “The current Neola policy would allow nothing, it is very specific. It would allow the American flag, the state flag, university flags, or anything that is directly tied to curriculum or subject matter the class is currently in.” 

Nowak said what is being proposed to the board is not having a policy, but instead having guidelines in place to help administrators make their decisions on what will or will not be allowed in classrooms. “Administration from their side has a set of administrative guidelines that guide and help them make the decisions they make on a day-to-day basis. These are not developed or adopted by the board because they are not district policy.” 

A decision on whether to accept or deny the policy will take place at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, February 20 at 6 p.m., and community members are invited to attend and speak during public comments. “Right now it’s kind of confusing on guideline versus policy, but there will be a decision. We’ve done our due diligence and there will be a decision on the 20th,” Nowak said.

The Board of Education meeting location is inside the District Training Room in the Administrative Office Building at 851 Sixth Ave Rd, Three Rivers. 

Beca Welty is a staff writer and columnist for Watershed Voice.