Parent complaint leads to removal of pride flags at TRMS

THREE RIVERS — Three Rivers Middle School teachers Monday who had pride flags in their classrooms were asked to take them down until further notice because of a parent complaint.

According to an email sent to staff Monday morning by Middle School Principal Jason Bingaman obtained by the Commercial-News, an “external challenge in the district” that he said reached the level of the Board of Education led to advising that staff who have pride flags hanging in their classrooms, such as the rainbow flag for gay pride, take them down “until further notice.”

In the email, Bingaman added that Interim Superintendent Nikki Nash would be on a call with the district’s law firm to get guidance on the situation.

“Please understand that while I may personally stand behind you and your stance to have the flags up, this is something that I have to do until things get cleared up through Mrs. Nash,” Bingaman wrote.

The Commercial-News attempted to reach out to Bingaman at the middle school Monday for comment, but he was not in the office at the time.

District officials told the Commercial-News in a statement Monday that they are aware of the situation and are “continuing to work with the district’s legal firm and members of the Board of Education to ensure we are providing a safe learning environment for all students.”

Nash said in an interview Monday the initial complaint was made by a parent on Thursday, Nov. 18. While no specifics of the situation were disclosed, Nash said the complaint surrounded “something that was happening during the day.” She said the district’s law firm, Thrun Law Firm, made the ultimate call to take down the flags until further notice.

While the situation is only affecting the middle school currently, Nash said herself, Thrun, and district administration will have conversations going forward regarding the issue.

“This is an ongoing process right now to see where we’re at in the district with our district policies,” Nash said. She said there have not been discussions about other items that are not allowed to be hung in classrooms.

Reaction to the move on social media has been mostly critical of the district’s decision, with a group planning to protest the decision prior to the Monday, Dec. 6 board meeting at the school district’s administrative offices on Sixth Avenue, which starts at 6 p.m. Nash said discussion of the pride flag removal will occur during the meeting.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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