While law enforcement officials are confident the recent student walkout and flag destruction at Plymouth Canton Educational Park was protected by free speech, Superintendent of Schools Monica Merritt described the incident as “disruptive” and “in violation of board policies.”
A social media post Nov. 1 showed unidentified students ripping apart an Israeli flag while others cheered them on laughing and chanting “Rip it up, rip it up.”
The walkout, according to a notice to parents from Merritt on Wednesday, was student organized and student led. The walkout included students from Canton, Plymouth and Salem high schools, all located on the educational campus in Canton.
Canton police and school security officers were on the scene, according to officials, but did not report witnessing any flag desecration. Canton Police Chief Chad Baugh said the incident was considered a peaceful demonstration and no laws or violations of the Constitution were violated. He noted that in the current political climate, law enforcement departments are being cautious in their approach. He added that the department was prepared had the demonstration become a flashpoint for a larger incident.
In her communication to families, Merritt said the district would provide help to students or staff members who needed support following the demonstration.
“Plymouth Canton, community schools, rejects all forms of discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying,” Merritt's said in the letter. “We are reviewing this matter and will apply discipline consistent with our policies. I urge our families to engage in open and constructive discussions with their children about the importance of respectful and peaceful expression of their views and the consequences of violating to school policies. We are committed to promoting a safe and inclusive environment for all students,” she concluded.