Miami-Dade School Board Member Roberto Alonso Loses Battle For American & Florida Flags
The Miami-Dade County School Board recently passed a measure to allow only the American and Florida flags to be displayed in classrooms and on school district grounds year-round. However, after amendments that ensured all “federally protected flags” would be allowed to be displayed year-round were added, the measure’s effectiveness has been questioned.
The move comes one month after a nearly identical item was withdrawn from the board’s agenda due to pushback from the community and a canceled board workshop.
Newly-elected and DeSantis-backed school board member Roberto Alonso proposed the measure again recently. The action initially sought to ensure the American flag and the Florida state flag were displayed at all times while other flags, like Black Lives Matter, Gay pride, and those from foreign countries, were not. However, this version includes a measure to monitor teacher compliance while also building flexibility if the flag is actively part of instruction.
In statements during deliberations, Alonso clarified that these flags could be displayed temporarily for specific instructional purposes but that they should not be mainstays comparable to the stars and stripes.
“What we don’t want is for the Cuban flag to be flying all year long inside of a classroom that discussed it during Hispanic heritage month, but now that flag is overpowering the American flag within that classroom,”
CENSORSHIP ALERT: Miami-Dade School Board member explains how his item to ban "political" flags in schools would be applied. pic.twitter.com/HTKcRJRTFW
— PRISM FL, Inc. (@prism_fl) December 11, 2022
Alonso said that one purpose of the move was to limit teachers’ ability to “display flags that promote a political issue,” party, or candidate. The action also ensured compliance with existing state law and school board policy requiring an American flag in every classroom.
Alonso also argued that the measure sought to enforce laws already on the books, one of which prohibits the use of schools or their equipment to promote “a political party, a political cause, or the candidacy of an individual for public office.”
For these reasons, Alonso insisted the matter should not be politicized, as that is the precise opposite of its purpose.
“Flags can go in many different ways, but the flags I’m focused on are related to our curriculum, which will go back to our countries [and] to the history of different international countries we might display. If what you’re alluding to is political flags that may be out there, and I’m not going to describe any of them, obviously there’s no place for anything non-neutral inside of our schools. Our schools really need to be focused on academics.”
“I think sometimes we misconstrue things. And no offense to the folks in the back, but the media loves to create dividing drama… Shame on them, “Alonso stressed. “The item is not to create hate but to create unity.”
Despite Alonso’s calls for unity, the backlash was immediate. One Florida activist group compared the measure to flag burning.
"There is a war being waged on LGBTQ+ people."
A Miami-Dade parent and lawyer speaking truth to the importance of pride flags in schools.#SayNoToFlagBurning
— PRISM FL, Inc. (@prism_fl) December 14, 2022
Teachers Union president and former running mate to failed Democrat candidate for Florida Governor Charlie Crist Karla Hernández-Mats also weighed in, calling the bill “unnecessary.” However, even as she claimed the issue was non-existent, Hernández-Mats praised the “inclusivity” of the teacher’s union community in the area and raised concerns about teachers being forced to take down flags representing their pride in non-curriculum-relevant communities.
Miami-Dade school superintendent Steve Gallon proposed an amendment that makes exceptions for the flags of federally protected groups. This phrase is never explicitly defined, but federal protections under Title IX extend to gender and sexual orientation. The amendment was accepted, essentially neutering the measure’s ability to prevent flags in classrooms that forward woke priorities from being up year-round. An observer on Twitter ripped the board for the result, arguing it essentially changed nothing.
I appreciate what they are trying to do, but this just looks weak and ineffective. If you believe the only flags which should be in the classroom are the US flag and the state flag, then just do it.
Which flags can be flown in a Miami-Dade classroom? https://t.co/dFy5I9Nf2M
— The True Corrective (@truecorrective) December 14, 2022
Hernándz-Mats praised the decision on Twitter as preventing discrimination by allowing the flags to be up. The flags that she argued before the vote were not up and, therefore, unnecessary to address.
Shout-out to parents & community members that showed up to advocate against discrimination. Educators believe that all children, regardless of their race, gender, or national origin, deserve high quality education that is inclusive, safe, & welcoming. #amendment #flag #mdcps pic.twitter.com/I8fQEWVWnv
— Karla Hernández (@KarlaforFlorida) December 14, 2022
As it stands, the measure seems to have been compromised back to neutral, but how the complicated interplay of the action and its amendments, federal law, and state law on parental rights in education will actually be applied is still anyone’s guess.
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