ORANGE, Mass. (WWLP) - A civil rights controversy is brewing at an elementary school in the Town of Orange, and it all surrounds an 11 year-old's drawing of the American Flag.
The family of Frankie Girard is claiming that their son's civil rights were violated after a teacher allegedly told him that hanging his picture of the American flag would offend another student.
The Butterfield Elementary School is at the center of controversy for the incident on Monday. According to Frankie Girard's father, John, the boy was in art class drawing a picture.
"He was denied hanging the flag up. And, he asked if he could just even hang it on his desk, and he was told no. He could take the picture that he drew and take it home and be proud of it there," Girard said.
So, that is where it is, among the hundreds of other family pictures and military honors that adorn the walls of the Girard family home.
According to his father, the teacher told Frankie that his drawing of the American Flag would offend one of his classmates. "We're allowing him to display his civil rights and be proud of who he is, but we're denying Franklin those same rights," Girard said.
22News tried to contact the Superintendent, Dr. Paul Burnim. He refused to go on camera, but told 22News over the phone that nobody ever told Franklin the drawing was offensive, and said the only reason it wasn't hung was because Franklin was supposed to be doing other work; not drawing a picture. In a statement he said: "Each of our schools flies the American Flag every day. At the Butterfield School, the Pledge of Allegiance is recited by students and staff. And the other schools recite the Pledge of Allegiance at least once per week."
The controversy is stirring heated debate within the Town of Orange. "I served 15 years in the military so that we could hang the flag wherever we wanted to, so I'm very offended," Faith Sullivan of Orange said.
A Facebook group called "I support Frankie Girard and the U.S. Flag" already has about 700 likes in two days.
The superintendent told 22News that Frankie's father is "going to extremes" and that the school has always respected the American Flag.
Frankie's father told 22News that he is so outraged that he placed a call to the American Civil Liberties Union.