Nine high school students at Baltimore City College were still on suspension today for burning a U.S. flag in the school courtyard to protest the war against Iraq.
The flag-burning took place shortly after noon yesterday outside the school cafeteria. The nine students, all 10th-, 11th- or 12th-graders, were placed on "disciplinary removal" for endangering other students and participating in an unauthorized activity on school property.
Disciplinary removal is the least severe form of suspension and can result in the students' being out of school for up to three days. The students were not identified.
The parents of all nine students must meet with administrators before the students can be readmitted.
Douglas J. Neilson, a spokesman for the school department, said the administration was not trying to put a lid on student protests.
At the same time, he said, "We are working with the students at City to try to get the students to channel it properly."
If City students had approached the school administration in advance, a protest would have been allowed to take place, though not a flag-burning, he said.
City College has a special focus on humanities, including social studies, and draws its more than 1,300 students from throughout Baltimore.
In an attempt to meet student concerns about the war, City will sponsor a series of in-school forums each day next week to discuss the situation, Neilson said. Those forums may include talks from outsiders, including elected officials.
Meanwhile, administrators at many city schools are trying to keep students abreast of the war.
Some are using school public address systems to pass along information. Schools with cable television stay tuned to the latest news.
Even at the elementary school level, teachers have been touching on war-related issues. At Ashburton Elementary School, for example, the subject came up at a previously scheduled school assembly yesterday.
"Obviously, it's the center of discussion of most of the classes that are going on," said Neilson.