The Tomah School Board voted unanimously to ban the Confederate flag during a special meeting last night, joining seven other schools in the Mississippi Valley Conference.

School board member Jerry Fushianes told Wisconsin Public Radio that he was pleased with the outcome.

“The responsibility of our school board and any school board is to ensure that we create an opportunity for students to learn uninhibited by any distractions,” Fushianes told WPR. “We were able to appreciate that there were multiple opinions (on the ban), but the students are what we have to care for and that’s who we took care of tonight.”

Tomah School Superintendent Cindy Zahrte told WPR that several incidents at the high school, including someone letting the air out of a student’s tires in connection with the flag, brought the issue to the school board. Zahrte added that she believes the school district does respect students’ rights.

“We have a delicate balance here of how do we promote student freedom of expression but also maintain a safe school environment,” Zahrte said. “Those two things in this particular situation are coming into conflict and we have to side on ensuring that the school is a safe place for every child.”

The city of Tomah is about 45 miles east of La Crosse and 100 miles northwest of Madison.