PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A controversial new school policy in Newberg has led to some negative blowback directed at Newberg student athletes, the school board said.
In August, the Newberg School Board’s conservative majority originally passed a ban on political symbols on school grounds, including Black Lives Matter and Pride symbols, flags, or t-shirts. But after a tidal wave of public backlash and open criticism from local and state leaders, the board re-examined their decision.
By a 4-3 vote this week, the board passed a re-written and more narrowly focused ban on political symbols. It now focuses on teachers and staff alone but the board expanded the banned displays to anything that is “political, quasi-political or controversial.”
Board members on both sides of the vote did agree, however, that the focus needs to swing back to the students they are serving.
“We’ve been in a pandemic and we need to take care of the mental situation of our students. They’re just coming back into the classroom and it’s scary,” said board member Rebecca Piros.
Board Chair Dave Brown said Newberg student athletes are facing negative comments while playing at other schools.
“We’re in a tough political climate and it’s hard,” he said. “Please, everybody — treat our kids well. They just want to play football or volleyball, then go out with friends and eat pizza and stuff like that.”
The school board is facing some adversity of its own. Last month, the Newberg Educational Association filed a tort notice stating it intends to sue the board. The ACLU is also threatening to take legal action.