In June the Mill River Unified Union School District Board voted in favor of flying the Black Lives Matter flag over its campuses, but now an Asian-American parent wants schools to fly a flag to celebrate Asian lives, and the board is saying no way.
At the board’s Oct. 7 meeting, Brian McFarren, a half-Japanese resident, blasted board members for their unwillingness to give Asian Americans the same treatment as black Americans.
“After the Board’s decision to fly the Black Lives Matter and Gay Pride flags, I requested equal treatment to display a flag to represent Asian lives for my Asian-American kids in Wallingford Elementary,” he said during the Zoom meeting.
“But unlike Reese Eldert-Moore [daughter of Tabitha Moore, president of the Rutland NAACP chapter], I didn’t get a royal welcome. Instead, my Asian kids and my request for a flag were given the brush-off,” he said.
McFarren, in an interview with True North, explained his reasoning for proposing an Asian flag.
“When they decided that they wanted to fly the Black Lives Matter flag and the Pride flag, to me it appeared to be a very quick and easy decision for them to make,” he said. “So I was just basically making a point by requesting the same because I have Asian kids.”
Over summer, during the board’s June 17 meeting, members approved flying the controversial political flags by an 8-1-1 vote. The decision affected schools located in Clarendon, Shrewsbury, Tinmouth and Wallingford.
McFarren, whose children attend Wallingford Elementary, said he intended to just drop the matter after the board rejected his request. However, he later saw a series of emails that board members exchanged about him and his request and became outraged at comments he is calling “bigoted” and “racist.”
At the Oct. 7 meeting, McFarren told the board: “Internal emails reveal that the Mill River school board actually investigated me to dig up reasons why they shouldn’t honor my request. That same day, Board member Liz Filskov had private conversations with board members John McKenna and Maria French, and said this about me: ‘People are getting out of hand – like there’s no established yellow lives matter movement or yellow flag that represents a movement. I don’t think Brian McFarren is Asian, but who knows, it sounds like he’s just being a dick.'”
He went on to demand that Liz Filskov resign from the board. He also said Board Chair Tammy Heffernan should “step down as board chair and recuse herself from any aspect of flag related issues.”
“In light of these shocking, unprofessional and bigoted acts, I have withdrawn my children from the Mill River system, and will not return them until the board demonstrates inclusion, respect, and equity,” McFarren said. “I’m consulting an attorney, and have not decided whether I will bring suit against the board for racial discrimination.”
McFarren told True North that the board has a history of being biased.
Tammy Heffernan and Liz Filskov did not return TNR’s request for comment.