YORK, Pa. – Complaints about students displaying Confederate flags on T-shirts and cars at an area high school led to a ban of the image and a later racial disturbance, officials said.
Administrators banned displays of the flag at Susquehannock High School in Glen Rock after several students said they were upset by the symbol, said Southern York County School District superintendent Thomas R. Hensley.
Officials met with about 10 students on Thursday and told them they could not display the flag on school grounds, Hensley said.
"We respect the students' First Amendment rights. But students cannot engage in expressive conduct that materially disrupts the educational environment, undermines mutual respect for other students or promotes unlawful activities," Hensley said.
"The school district is committed to offering all students an environment that is free from threatening or harassing behavior."
The students who were told not to display the flag returned after school in two pickup trucks. They waved Confederate flags, drove recklessly on school property and yelled racial slurs, said Southern Regional police Chief James Childs.
They yelled that people who didn't like the flag should "move back to Baltimore," he said.
Although the incident happened after dismissal, many people were still on campus for athletic events, including students from other schools, Childs said.
The students who allegedly caused the disturbance were suspended and ordered to leave school property, said Childs. The teens are also facing criminal charges, possibly including ethnic intimidation, he said.
"To me, this is a hate crime," said Childs. "I'm not going to tolerate it."
Childs said the driver of one of the pickup trucks was upset because another student had taken the Confederate flag off his truck and stuffed it in his tailpipe, Childs said. A flag on a second vehicle was removed and hidden, Childs said.
The student responsible for those actions has been disciplined by the school, the chief said.