#1 California Students Sent Home for Wearing U.S. Flags on Cinco de Mayo
05-06-2010, 07:18 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
I heard an interview with one of the mothers. Apparently her kids wear American flags a lot, not just on May 5. Also, two of the kids are Mexican or part Mexican. One of them was told by his Mexican-American assistant principal that he was racist for wearing an American flag. Strange days indeed....
Administrators at a California high school sent five students home on Wednesday after they refused to remove their American flag T-shirts and bandannas -- garments the school officials deemed "incendiary" on Cinco de Mayo.
The five teens were sitting at a table outside Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Calif., on Wednesday morning when Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez asked two of them to remove their American flag bandannas, one of their parents told FoxNews.com. The boys complied, but were asked to accompany Rodriguez to the principal's office.
The five students -- Daniel Galli, Austin Carvalho, Matt Dariano, Dominic Maciel and Clayton Howard -- were then told they must turn their T-shirts inside-out or be sent home, though it would not be considered a suspension. Rodriguez told the students he did not want any fights to break out between Mexican-American students celebrating their heritage and those wearing American flags.
Dariano's mother, Diana, told FoxNews.com she and parents of the other four students are now demanding an apology from officials and are considering a lawsuit.
"We want an apology," Diana Dariano said Thursday. "Who in the United States of America would have an issue with that? It's a sad, sad day."
Dariano said her son has at least four T-shirts with American flags that he wears often and did not try to cause any conflict at school.
"I'm more hurt than anything," she said. "It is so hurtful and disrespectful the way this has turned. These are American kids."
The boys told Rodriguez and Principal Nick Boden that turning their shirts inside-out was disrespectful, so their parents decided to take them home.
"I just couldn't believe it," Julie Fagerstrom, Maciel's mother, told the Morgan Hill Times. "I'm an open-minded parent, but it's got to be on both sides. It can't be five kids singled out."
Galli told NBC Bay Area, "They said we could wear it on any other day, but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it's supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it."
In a statement released Thursday, Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Wesley Smith characterized the incident as "extremely unfortunate" and said the matter is under investigation.
"The Morgan Hill Unified School District does not prohibit nor do we discourage wearing patriotic clothing," Smith's statement read. "The incident on May 5 at Live Oak High School is extremely unfortunate. While campus safety is our primary concern and administrators made decisions yesterday in an attempt to ensure campus safety, students should not, and will not, be disciplined for wearing patriotic clothing. This matter is under investigation and appropriate action will be taken."
Officials at Live Oak High School did not return several messages seeking comment on Thursday. A secretary told the Morgan Hill Times that Boden and Rodriguez were unavailable for comment on Wednesday.
According to its website, Live Oak High School is a 1,300-student institution in the southern part of Santa Clara County, with most students residing in the nearby cities of Morgan Hill and San Jose.
"The student population reflects the rich ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the community," the website reads.
More than 100 students were spotted wearing the colors of the Mexican flag -- red, white and green -- as they left school, including some who had the flag painted on their faces or arms, the Morgan Hill times reported.
While bandannas of any color are banned at the school, its dress code policy does not contain references to American flags.
"However, any clothing or decoration which detracts from the learning environment is prohibited," the policy reads. "The school has the right to request that any student dressing inappropriately for school will change into other clothes, be sent home to change, and/or be subject to disciplinary action."
Freshman Laura Ponce, who had a Mexican flag painted on her face and chest, told the Morgan Hill Times that Cinco de Mayo is the "only day" Mexican-American students can show their national pride.
"There was a lot of drama going on today," Ponce told the newspaper.
Some other Mexican-American students reportedly said their flags were taken away or asked to be put away, but no other students were sent home on Wednesday.
Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at the University of California-Los Angeles, said the students are protected under California Education Code 48950, which prohibits schools from enforcing a rule subjecting a high school student to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct, that when engaged outside of campus, is protected by the First Amendment.
If the school could point to previous incidents sparked by students who wore garments with American flags, they could argue that the flag is likely to lead to "substantial disruption," Volokh said.
"If, for example, there had been fights over similar things at past events, if there had been specific threats made," he said. "But if [school officials] just say, 'Well, we think it might be offensive to people,' that's generally speaking not enough."
Volokh said the students and their parents likely have a winning case on their hands if they decide to take the matter to court.
"Oh yes, it's almost open and shut," he said.
Lis Wiehl, a former federal prosecutor and a Fox News legal analyst, said the incident appears to a "blatant" violation of the students' First Amendment right to free speech. She noted that inciting violence is an exception to a First Amendment legal defense, but Wiehl said she saw no indications that the students provoked anyone.
"Unless I'm missing something, this seems like a blatant violation of the First Amendment," said Wiehl, adding that uniforms are not required at the public school. "And they're wearing, of all horrific things, the American flag."
05-06-2010, 07:22 PM
- Join Date
- Jun 2008
Morgan Hill: Teen athletes entangled in debate over U.S. flag clothing
By Lisa Fernandez and Bruce Newman
Five Morgan Hill high school student athletes are now entangled in a national debate over what they wore to school on Cinco de Mayo: shirts and shorts bearing the American flag.
An assistant principal at Live Oak High School asked the teens Wednesday to turn their T-shirts inside out or go home because the red-white-and-blue garb was "incendiary" on May 5. Many of the school's Latino students — 39.9 percent of the Live Oak student body — were celebrating the unlikely defeat of the Mexican army over French forces in 1862 by wearing Mexico's colors of red, white and green.
Three boys left campus because they found the other option to be "disrespectful" to the flag, and two remained in school anyway, without changing, some of their parents said.
The Morgan Hill Unified School District now says what happened was "extremely unfortunate" and that there is no ban on "patriotic" clothing. Two free speech experts say the boys should have been able to wear the country's colors.
"In the 1960s, students expressed themselves by desecrating the flag," said Peter Scheer, executive director with the First Amendment Coalition in San Rafael. "Flash 50 years ahead and the students are now demonstrating with the flag to show their patriotism. The same laws that protected the burning of the flag also protect wearing it."
This wasn't the only symbolic protest on Cinco de Mayo. About 20 students showed up at Pioneer High School wearing "Border Patrol" T-shirts. By the end of the day, administrators asked them to remove the shirts, which they apparently did with no problems, according to Karen Fuqua, spokeswoman for the San Jose Unified School District.
And the Phoenix Suns wore "Los Suns" jerseys at their basketball game. Afterward, President Barack Obama congratulated their win as he called them by their Spanish team name.
The new anti-immigration law in Arizona, giving police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being here illegally, was the backdrop for the clothing choice by the five Morgan Hill teens, ages 15 to 17, who have all been friends since Pop Warner football. They share a love of sports, four are on the school football team, others wrestle and play basketball. Their tale sparked attention from media outlets spanning from MSNBC to Fox News.
"We're happy about Arizona's law, and you bet we're fired up," said Julie Fagerstrom, whose son, Dominic Maciel, wore a shirt bearing the stripes and stars until he was asked by Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez to flip it inside out or go home. Dominic's father, who is no longer really in the picture, Fagerstrom said, is a first-generation Mexican-American.
"School was pretty crazy
today,'' Dominic told the Mercury News. "I don't think I'm a villian, I was just representing my country. But I don't know if I would do this again. People took our message the wrong way. We weren't trying to start anything at all.''
He said he can't even remember whose idea it was to wear the garb and when the decision was made.
Two other boys — Matthew Dariano and Clayton Howard — also have some Mexican heritage in their families, Fagerstrom said. The other two, Daniel Galli and Austin Carvalho, do not.
"These are really great kids," Fagerstrom said. "They wear American flag clothes all the time. For the Fourth of July, for Memorial Day. They want to show their patriotism.''
Diana Dariano, whose son Matthew wore a U.S. Constitution T-shirt, acknowledged that the friends wore the clothes to make a point: They love their country and believe in legal immigration.
"They heard that the Mexican kids were going to wear their colors so they wanted to wear the colors of the American flag," she said. "You can never tell someone in this country not to wear the American flag. It's America!"
But Scheer, while defending the rights of the five students, also said there are certain times when a school principal, much like a pilot on a plane, has broad discretionary powers. Schools can and do issue bans on gang colors and risque clothing on campus, as well as instilling uniform policies.
"It's difficult to second-guess the judgment of a principal on the issue of physical security of the students," Scheer said. "If the principal believes there will be a riot, then he can ban the shirts. But if he thinks students are just going to be angry, it's not good enough. Every effort should be made to allow students to make a political statement."
Fagerstrom said the parents met with an assistant superintendent Wednesday evening who wanted to hear all the sides. At an earlier meeting, Principal Nick Boden and Rodriguez indicated to her that they were worried about the safety of the five American-flag boys. "They said they heard from some students there was going to be some drama,'' Fagerstrom said.
District Superintendent Wesley Smith issued a statement today: "The Morgan Hill Unified School District does not prohibit nor do we discourage wearing patriotic clothing. The incident on May 5 at Live Oak High School is extremely unfortunate. While campus safety is our primary concern and administrators made decisions yesterday in an attempt to ensure campus safety, students should not, and will not, be disciplined for wearing patriotic clothing. This matter is under investigation and appropriate action will be taken."
What action, if any, that will be taken against the school's administrators is unclear. But some protesters in front of Live Oak High this morning urged that Rodriguez be fired. A group of Mexican-American students at Live Oak also staged a march, saying they wanted respect for their heritage.
The school office referred calls seeking comment to the district.
Fagerstrom said while she wants a "public apology" from the school, she is a "reasonable person" who doesn't want "lives to be ruined or careers to be terminated" over this flap.
Allowing the clothing is the right thing to do, said Julia Harumi Mass, an attorney who specializes in both immigrant and student rights at the American Civil Liberties Union in San Francisco.
"In most contexts, the American flag would not fall into the 'inciteful' category," she said. "There is strong protection for student political speech on campus. But I hope the school will engage in a conversation about this. I hope they will use this as a teaching moment."
05-06-2010, 08:06 PM
When was the last time you heard about somebody wearing a "Kiss Me - I'm Irish" t-shirt belting somebody wearing a USA flag t-shirt on St. Patrick's Day? Oh, that would be never.
What part of "freedom of speech" do these teachers not understand? Expressing pride in America via t-shirt may annoy or outrage some illegal aliens and their anchor baby kids but it's a right and it isn't racist or legally offensive.
The Mexicans wouldn't even have won that battle if it wasn't for the Civil War.
My head is going to explode now.
05-06-2010, 08:50 PM
Absolutely sickening that things like this happen in our country.2009 CU Pro Football Pick'em Champ
05-06-2010, 08:57 PM
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- Nov 2009
- In Florda. Out smacking around Useful Idiots
Mexico doesn't even celebrate Cinco de Mayo. :D
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- Jun 2008
05-06-2010, 11:36 PM
WTF? It's racist to wear a shirt with an American flag on it - IN AMERICA??? To all those who were offended - FUCK YOU.Stand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
05-06-2010, 11:56 PM
BTW - did a little research - google is my friend - the assistant principals name is Miguel Rodriguez - his phone number is: (408) 201-6100 ext- 40105
:)Stand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
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