Andy Birdwell said his 14-year-old son Andrew was one of seven boys suspended for taking a picture with a Confederate flag at Round Rock Ridgeview Middle School.
“When I asked my son, ‘Exactly why would you take a picture? What transpired for you to want to do this and take a picture?’ and he said, ‘Dad, I just really liked the colors,’” Andy said.
Andy said an assistant principal found the picture while looking through one student's cell phone, but he doesn't agree with the principal that the students were making a threat when they snapped it.
“I called up there yesterday asking for a copy of the disciplinary action and his statement was to me that the boys were holding up a Confederate flag and that is a sign of slavery,” said Andy.
“Our top priority at Round Rock ISD, at any of our schools, is to ensure the safety and security of our school and that's contingent upon a tolerant learning community for all students,” said Corey Ryan, spokesman for Round Rock ISD.
Andy said his son has several homework assignments that display the Confederate flag and that could have been confusing to the teenager.
“It was kind of tough for me to explain why he's getting assignments from school with a Confederate flag on it, yet he can't hold one,” Andy said.
Ryan said the students are taught about controversial symbols all the time during classes.
“Our teachers in Round Rock ISD, across all of our schools including Ridgeview Middle School, they touch on sensitive subjects as part of learning, as part of teaching, especially elements of history,” said Ryan.
Andy said he has since addressed the subject with his son Andrew.
“We immediately told him, ‘In today's times, you need to be really careful what others think. And that the Confederate flag could be considered a negative, due to the south, you know, did fight for slavery,” Andy said.
Ryan said this isn't the first issue.
“There was more than one incident at Ridgeview Middle School involving a small amount of students,” said Ryan.
Andy said his son has never been reprimanded for something like this before. He is appealing the suspension and may seek legal action or move his son out of Round Rock ISD altogether.