After making headlines for kicking a seventh-grade student out of class for having a Gadsden flag patch on his backpack and claiming it had “origins with slavery,” a Colorado Springs charter school has reversed its decision — while also trying to claim that the reports about their actions were “incomplete.”
The board of directors at the Vanguard School in Colorado Springs, Colorado, reportedly called an emergency meeting to walk back their decision — which ultimately ended with the student’s family being notified on Tuesday that he can continue to attend school with the patch displayed on his backpack.
“From Vanguard’s founding, we have proudly supported our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the ordered liberty that all Americans have enjoyed for almost 250 years. The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden flag and its place in history. This incident is an occasion for us to reaffirm our deep commitment to a classical education in support of these American principles,” the board wrote in an email to families of students attending the school.
However, it appears that Beth Danjuma — the assistant principal of the junior high building at The Vanguard School — did not recognize the “historical significance of the Gadsden flag” prior to this incident. In the viral video that prompted this controversy, Danjuma can be heard falsely claiming that the Revolutionary War-era flag had “origins with slavery.”
“The reason we do not want the flag displayed is due to its origins with slavery and the slave trade,” the assistant principal can be heard telling the student’s mother in the video.
Jaiden, the 12-year-old student at the center of the controversy, and his mother pushed back on the teacher’s claims — with the mother pointing out that the Gadsden Flag was a symbol from the American Revolution, not the Confederacy. However, Danjuma refused to listen.
Meet 12yo Jaiden who was kicked out of class yesterday in Colorado Springs for having a Gadsden flag patch, which the school claims has "origins with slavery."
The school's director said via email that the patch was "disruptive to the classroom environment."
Receipts in the 🧵 pic.twitter.com/qQ8jK1zSpR
— Connor Boyack 📚 (@cboyack) August 29, 2023
Despite this video evidence, the school has claimed in an emailed press release that reports about the incident are “incomplete” — citing other patches on Jaiden’s backpack with “semi-automatic weapons” on them. The school claimed that these patches were the actual reason behind him being punished, despite Danjuma clearly focusing on the Gadsden flag and false claims about “origins with slavery” in her discussion with Jaiden’s mother.
“There has been National media attention on our charter school, The Vanguard School, related to a student having the Gadsden flag on his backpack. Unfortunately, this story is incomplete. The patch in question was part of half a dozen other patches of semi-automatic weapons. The student has removed the semi-automatic patches. As a school district, we will continue to ensure all students and employees can learn and work in a safe and nurturing environment,” the press release from Harrison School District 2, home of Vanguard, read.
However, their attempt to change the story does not stand up to scrutiny, considering the fact that Vanguard School Director of Operations Jeff Yocum also doubled down on the false claims that the Gadsden flag had racist undertones. In an email to Jaiden’s mother after the initial incident, Yocum cited a decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which claimed that while it is “clear that the Gadsden Flag originated in the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context,” the flag “also has since been sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.”
Yocum also asserted that the Gadsden flag was “tied to the Confederate flag and other white-supremacy groups, including ‘Patriot’ groups,” citing an article from an associate professor of graphic design.
His attempt to double down on smears against the flag directly contradicts the school’s attempts to obfuscate the issue, according to critics.