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State Educators Ban School’s Confederate Flag

August 20, 1986 GMT

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (AP) _ State educators have told a school district to stop using the Confederate flag as a spirit symbol at football games, but local officials deny that its use promotes discrimination.

Grand Prairie Superintendent Marvin Crawford said Tuesday he will recommend that school board members appeal the Texas Education Agency’s order because the students have voted to keep the flag.

If the suburban Dallas district defies the order, it could lose its state accreditation and up to 20 percent of its state funds, officials said.

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The agency’s report to local school officials found that while the flag itself does not constitute proof of discrimination it is suggestive of such a practice.

″After analysis of the information, it is the opinion (of the agency) that the use of the Confederate flag as a symbol has caused disruptions within the Grand Prairie Independent School District,″ the report said.

The report was in response to a discrimination complaint filed by the Grand Prairie chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

″I feel real good about it,″ said Lee Alcorn, president of the local NAACP chapter. ″It substantiates our allegations that the thing was discriminatory.″

The use of the flag at high school football games became an issue last year when Fred Coleman Jr., a black sophomore football player at South Grand Prairie High School, refused to play under the flag, saying it was a racist symbol.

The NAACP protested use of the Rebel flag. Picket lines formed at one football game and black parents protested at school board meetings. The flag was briefly banned, but was reinstated when students voted to stay with it.

″I think the school district owes it to the community to let them (the students) keep the flag,″ said Jim Swafford, school board president. ″If we don’t, it’s all over.″

Local officials say the flag was first used by South Grand Praire High School to distinguish it from its rival Grand Praire High School.

The Confederate battle flag is used as a symbol by Southwest High School in Fort Worth and Richland High School in the Birdville school district.

But the state has not investigated the cases because of an absence of discrimination charges or disruption in the education process, said Julius Gordon, the TEA investigator who looked into the Grand Prairie complaint.