BARBERTON, Ohio (WJW) — A local school district is responding after controversy recently arose over Barberton High School student-athletes chose not to stand during the national anthem before games.
Barberton City School District said on Facebook Saturday that they understand many community members do not agree with the student's choice, however, the law protects the individual's decision.
The district issued the following statement regarding the situation:
"We are aware of the Barberton High School student-athletes who have chosen not to stand during the pre-game playing of the United States National Anthem. The Barberton City School District supports every student’s right to free speech, as protected by the United States Constitution and supported by Ohio Revised Code (state law).
Ohio Revised Code 3313.602 states that a school district cannot compel an act of patriotism on the part of a student.
Laws similar to this Ohio state law have been challenged in the United States Supreme Court, dating back to 1943 (West Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624). Then the Supreme Court ruled, “students may not be required to salute the American flag or recite the Pledge of Allegiance at public schools.”
While many people may not share this student’s point of view, as a public school district we are proud of all of our students who are learning important lessons about life that public schools are uniquely suited to teach - that people can hold different beliefs and can still coexist, get along, and even work together toward common goals."
The superintendent says that while they will support their students' decision in regards to the national anthem, they are always open to hearing anyone's comments, questions, or concerns and will listen to everyone.
Anyone who'd like to discuss this situation further is invited to contact Superintendent Jeffrey Ramnytz.