By Theresa Marthey
Preston County News & Journal
KINGWOOD, W.Va. — The national controversy over the Confederate flag has made its way to Preston County.
On Tuesday, five students at Preston High were asked to remove Confederate flags from their vehicles by Principal Dr. David Pastrick.
Tina Walker, Kingwood, was alerted by her son Christopher, who was one of the five students told to take his Confederate flag from the back of his truck bed..
“He took it down,” Walker said. “But I think this is a violation of his constitutional rights.”
Walker, who was clearly upset about the incident, told the Preston County News & Journal she was planning to seek legal advice.
“It’s just not right for him (Principal Pastrick) to tell the kids to take down the flags. This school is becoming more of a prison then it ever has been.”
According to Preston Schools Superintendent Stephen Wotring, five Preston High students arrived at the school with the Confederate flag in the back of their vehicles.
“The principal, Dr. David Pastrick, asked the students to please remove the flags while on school property, or the vehicles would be removed from the school,” Wotring said. “We would have removed the vehicles from the school property.”
The flag controversy stemmed from the June 17 mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where, during a prayer service, nine people were killed by confessed gunman Dylann Roof. Roof was later seen in social media embracing the Confederate flag, which started a national effort to remove it from all public places.
But Walker said her son does not view the flag as a symbol of racism. He sees it as part of American history.
“He has done his research and told me, ‘Our ancestors fought in the war, why can I not hang it in honor of them,’” Walker said. “All these kids have grown up watching ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ and are used to seeing that flag.
“We are trying to teach them how to be ready for the real world,” Walker said. “What is this teaching them?”
Wotring said removal of the flags from the vehicles was uneventful, and no vehicles needed to be removed from the property.
“The students complied by removing the flags with no problems and no argument. It was not a big issue here,” Wotring said. “Now if they want to display the flags while traveling Route 26 on their way home from school or at their home that is fine. But not on school property.”
Wotring added the flags are inappropriate while on school property, although there is no specific policy against flying them.
“Is it coming to the time where everything we do is going to be put into the school code,” Wotring asked.
“That is a little ridiculous.”
Preston High School Principal Dr. David Pastrick was not available for comment.