Five Live Oak High School students' First Amendment rights were challenged Wednesday morning when they were asked to leave school because they donned American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo. Officials at the school chose not to comment on the situation, but one student said an official called the T-shirts "incendiary."
"They said we were starting a fight, we were fuel to the fire," said sophomore Matt Dariano.
The Morgan Hill Unified School District issued this statement: "In an attempt to foster a spirit of cultural awareness and maintain a safe and supportive school environment, the Live Oak High School administration took certain actions earlier today. The district does not concur with the Live Oak High School administration's interpretation of either board or district policy related to these actions."
The five teens were sitting at a table outside during their brunch break about 10:10 a.m. when Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez asked two boys to take off their American flag bandannas. The boys said they complied. In the same conversation, sophomore Dominic Maciel said, Rodriguez told the group to "walk with him to the office."
Dariano called his mother Diana, who spread the word to the other parents, who all arrived soon after to have a conference with Rodriguez and Principal Nick Boden. The group said they were not instigating anything and did what they always do at break - sit and talk and eat.
The boys were told they must turn their T-shirts inside-out or be sent home - and that it would not be considered a suspension - but that Rodriguez did not want any fights to break out among Mexican-American students and those wearing American flags. Dariano said other students were wearing American flags but since they were a group of five "we were the easiest target to cause trouble" according to Rodriguez, he said.
Photo by: Lora Schraft, Staff Photographer