WOODRUFF, SC (FOX Carolina) - Spartanburg District Four's superintendent is apologizing after Woodruff High School students were told to remove American flags flying from their cars on Sept. 11.
On the 13th anniversary of 9/11, American flags flew across the country and the Upstate, including on the back of several students’ cars as they arrived for class at Woodruff High - but they did not fly for long.
Superintendent Dr. Rallie Liston said when the school's principal took the flags off of their cars, he did not do it because it was 9/11 or because of the flag itself but because of a 20-year-old policy.
"There is a standing rule of 20 years against pole flags of any kind, not the American flag but any flag," Liston said.
He said the flags were collected and returned to students at the end of the day.
"[The principal] thanked them for their patriotism and explained it was not about the American flag but the rule," Liston said. "Twenty years ago, we had an issue of students bringing Confederate flags that the courts have ruled are inflammatory."
Liston said the district is reviewing the rule to exclude the American flag because it is a national symbol but promised Thursday's events would never play out again.
"We certainly offer an apology to our veterans and anyone else we offended," Liston said. "That is the last thing we would do. This community is God-fearing and flag-waving. We love God and country here."
Liston said the principal simply applied the rule narrowly, and the policy should have been looked at earlier.
Joseph Bryan's son was one of the students whose flag was taken. Bryan, a veteran himself, said he will accept the district's apology under one condition.
"As long as there is an exception for the American flag," Bryan said. "It should be able to be flown anywhere anytime."