Taking a Look at the D211 Flag Policy

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The flag is lowered to half-staff in front of the G.A. McElroy Administration Center.

On a typical day at any District 211 building, one will find the American flag and an Illinois state flag flying high with an additional mascot flag for each school right next to them. But, what does it mean when those flags are displayed at half-staff, and who decides when that happens?

The position of the flag is mandated by the United States Flag Code and the State of Illinois Flag Display Act. Only the President of the United States and the Governor of the State of Illinois have the authority to direct the lowering of the United States flag and the Illinois flag. The Illinois Flag Display Act was amended in 2007 to require that the flag be lowered to mark the death in combat of any soldier from Illinois, and also applies to line-of-duty deaths of police officers and firefighters.  The state’s law specifically applies to state and local governments facilities in Illinois, including schools.

The District recognized a need to honor its own community members, whether students or staff, in a time of tragedy. However, it was necessary to find a way to honor people within the District without violating federal and state regulations.

“When we would have a student or staff member pass, we would get calls and requests to fly the flag at half-staff to honor them,” said Gary Steiger, Palatine High School principal. “However, it was not possible as it would not have been allowed under the flag guidelines.”

The solution was for each district building to have its own special school flag.  This would provide a way for schools and the District to honor those who had passed away by displaying a school flag at half-staff, based on the discretion of the school and/or the District.

“When someone passed away, the school and/or the District office could choose to fly the school flag at half-staff as our sign of respect for the loss,” Steiger said.

Any time the American flag, state flag, or school flags are displayed at half-staff, community members can learn why by checking school and district websites. A special flag policy and procedure page is available with information for federal and state mandated displays, as well as an explanation as to why school and district flags may be displayed at half-staff. To visit that page, click here.