Steinert High School responds to controversy surrounding Confederate flag on student's pickup truck

A letter sent to parents of a high school student who said he was suspended for flying a Confederate flag on his pickup truck says the teen was disciplined for other reasons. (4/1/14)

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP - A letter sent to parents of a high school student who said he was suspended for flying a Confederate flag on his pickup truck says the teen was disciplined for other reasons.

Greg Vied says the flag drew the attention of administration at Steinert High School last week and believes his refusal to remove it is was what got him suspended.

Superintendent of Hamilton Township Schools Dr. James Parla responded with a letter that describes media reports about the flag as inaccurate, but does not mention Vied by name.

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It read in part, "Please know that no student at Steinert High School was suspended for displaying a Confederate flag, nor any display of anything for that matter."

But Vied's mother Lisa Martinez says it had everything to do with that flag. "Any conversation I had with them was about the flag," she says.

Martinez says school officials left her several voice mail messages concerning her son's controversial banner, which is emblazoned with the word, "Redneck," before she received a message last Tuesday informing her that her son was being suspended.

"They said he was suspended for leaving school grounds, but when I spoke to Greg, his understanding was he was being suspended, which is why he left," she says.

Vied says he only left the campus because he believed the principal had just suspended him after the two debated the flag issue for about an hour.
   
The high school senior contacted the ACLU, which sent the school a letter citing case law supporting Vied's right to freedom of expression, even if others at the school find the flag offensive.

Martinez says Vied had flown the flag on his truck since mid-January, and it only became an issue when administrators at the school made it into one.
    
She says if school officials had handled the matter better, she would have sided with them and told her son to take the flag down.

The superintendent did not respond to a message from News 12 seeking comment.

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