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Absence of US flags in classrooms questioned

It is not merely coincidence that Florida classrooms from Tampa to Tallahassee display American flags: it’s a law.

However, when College of Business professors Marvin Karlins and Robert Welker delivered a letter to USF’s Office of University Audit and Compliance, multiple classrooms in the College of Education were found in violation of the law.

“It appears that many classrooms at the University of South Florida are not in compliance with said statute,” their letter stated. “Specifically, it appears that none of the classrooms in the College of Education (EDU) are displaying the appropriate American flag as required by said statute. Please investigate our complaint and take appropriate action if such violations exist.”

University spokesman Michael Hoad said that while the University’s patriotism is not in question, the procurement of the flags is another issue.

“There’s a requirement that universities first seek donations … sufficient to cover the cost of installing flags in every classroom,” Hoad said. “As a result, many classrooms still don’t have them.”

According to the Carey Baker Freedom Flag Act, which was passed in the Florida Legislature in 2004, every classroom in the state of Florida must display an American flag.

“Each public K-20 educational institution that is provided or authorized by the Constitution and laws of Florida shall display daily, in each classroom, the flag of the United States,” the act states.

Alyssa Dupere, a freshman majoring in French and education, said the law makes sense.

“I don’t really think it’s weird because it’s always been like that,” she said. “I thought that they did it just to be patriotic.”

Vickie Chachere, news manager for University Communications, said the University was in full compliance when the law went into effect.

“Bank of America supplied 350 flags in 2004,” Chachere said. “Flags may have been taken down (when classrooms were being organized) and put away since then. But an audit is being conducted, and it will hopefully be done very soon.”

Hoad said the University will begin looking for sources of funding for the flags.

“Yes, (classrooms) should all have flags, but the law did allow leeway in trying to find other sources of funding,” Hoad said. “The USF Physical Plant is going to go around and count the classrooms that don’t have flags. Then, we’ll work to get a vendor to install them.”