Vinton high school student flies Confederate flag on truck, sent - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Vinton high school student flies Confederate flag on truck, sent home

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VINTON (KWWL) -

A group of eastern Iowa high schoolers are defending their stance on the Confederate flag saying "heritage not hate."

Thursday, Vinton-Shellsburg High School junior Hunter Gray says he was sent home for flying the flag on his truck.

Friday nearly a dozen other students showed up at the high school with flags to protest and show support for the flag.

However, they say they were asked to remove the flag or park off school grounds.

“We're just trying to show the flag is not racist,” said junior Matthew Kimm. “This is our right, freedom of speech, we're not trying to be racist.”

A row of cars across from school grounds had the flag plastered.

The district says earlier this week a high school teacher sent survey to start an educational dialogue about the Confederate flag.

“I think the best thing we can do is keep the lines of communication open,” says Vinton-Shellsburg Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock.

Gray says his First Amendment right was violated.

“I don't want this to be a racism thing because this is not what it's about. We want to show them that this - to us is heritage and a piece of American history,” says Gray.

Hainstock says flying the flag itself is not against any school rules, but says it caused a distraction to the environment.

“We've got freedom off speech and we're trying to balance that, but also trying to provide a safe and orderly learning environment,” says Hainstock.

Superintendent Hainstock would not confirm or deny Gray being sent home.

“It's heritage not hate,” said Kimm.

Meanwhile the students say they just want the district and other students to know flying the flag – especially on school grounds is their right.

“They only think it's about racist, that's the only thing the school teaches us,” says Gray.

“I think that our responsibility as a school district is to provide a good learning environment. Its also not to run away from things that are controversial or hard,” says Hainstock.

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