Members of the Newberg Public School Board in Oregon voted 4-3 to keep any and all political signage of schools in their district. The school board has not issued a written definition of what "political signage" is, but several reports indicated that Pride flags and Black Lives Matter signs were referenced as "political" during a recent board meeting. School board director Brian Shannon voted in favor of the ban and claimed that it would eliminate "divisive" symbols from the classroom, so teachers can "focus on the already difficult task of educating our students in the core subjects."
All board members did not share Shannon's sentiments after the school board's most recent vote. Board member Brandy Penner pointed out that the top public schools in the state all have diversity coordinators and have issued statements regarding inequality. Meanwhile, Penner explained that the state's struggling schools "lack of anything to do with equity."
"This feels so draconian ... this feels so anti-everything," Penner shared.
"Anti-free speech, anti-free expression, anti-safety."
Penner was backed by fellow board member, Ines Peña. Peña believes that the feelings of students and parents were not considered by some board members during the decision-making process.
“The quality of some of the stories that we heard should count more than just the number of emails that we received,” Peña told NBC News.
“And I feel like that’s not being heard. The students are not being heard.”
Dissenting school board members and concerned students are not the only disapproving parties in this matter. State Representative Rick Ruiz told NBC News that he was "disappointed by the actions taken from Newberg School Directors to ban pride and BLM flags from schools."
"Their attempts to roll back on anti-racist school policies such as the Every Student Belongs policy," Ruiz added.
"Our children should not bear the brunt end of partisan politics meant to further divide. Every student belongs in school, every student deserves to learn in a welcoming, and safe environment."
Newberg's decision has not been cemented just yet. Superintendent Joe Morelock will meet with legal representation before finalizing the school board's decision.
“I won’t be able to enforce it as it is until we’ve gone through a bunch of legal reviews,” he stated.