Newberg school ban on political symbols overturned by judge

Author: Christine Pitawanich (KGW)

NEWBERG, Ore. (KGW) — A Yamhill County Circuit Court judge has ruled that the Newberg School District’s ban on some symbols, including Pride and Black Lives Matter flags, is unconstitutional, the ACLU of Oregon reported.

The announcement of the final ruling from the circuit court judge is expected sometime this week, but in the meantime, people connected to the situation in Newberg provided their thoughts on the new development.

“It’s really exciting, actually really exciting,” said Zach Goff, an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community who headed up an unsuccessful effort in the last election to recall two board members who supported the policy.

“The court ruling is definitely a victory for our community, and especially for the students and staff who were largely ignored by the school board while they were making the decisions on these bans,” Goff said.

Brandy Penner, who along with another board member resigned in June due to the school board’s decision to ban the display of some symbols, said she wasn’t surprised by the judge’s decision.

“I am not at all surprised that this is so far the rulings that we’ve been getting are that this policy is unconstitutional on its face,” Penner said. “I think that has always been a concern.”

Penner said as an individual, she couldn’t stand behind the ban.

“It was one as a mother of children in the district that I couldn’t stand behind, and especially being the mother of a trans student in the district,” Penner said.

KGW also reached out to the district. A spokesperson said the district is aware of the recent court ruling and the district’s lawyer will be addressing the impact at the next school board meeting on Tuesday. Until then, the superintendent was unavailable to speak.

Advocates for Black and LGBTQIA+ communities said they have faith the case will go their way.

“The courts are gonna actually take care of this for us,” Goff said. “We were always very confident in that.”

KGW also reached out to the board chair and has not heard back.

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