Four Live Oak High School teens sent home for wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo have become the focus of national media attention and spurred a march by Hispanic students through downtown Morgan Hill.
Live Oak students Daniel Galli, Dominic Maciel, Matt Dariano and Austin Carvalho wore red, white and blue T-shirts - some with the American flag and some with flag shorts - to school Wednesday, prompting administrators to ask the students to change their clothing or turn their T-shirts inside-out because it could incite a confrontation on Cinco de Mayo. The four students' parents were called into a conference with Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez and Principal Nick Boden, who sent the students home with an unexcused absence - not a suspension.
...The incident has set off a firestorm of outrage online, a flurry of media coverage and a backlash from some in the Hispanic community, who have been offended by some of the defenses offered for the four students.
...Locally, about 200 Hispanic students walked out of Live Oak and Ann Sobrato high schools, chanting "Si se puede" and "We want respect" and disrupting traffic as they marched through Morgan Hill to demonstrate their support for Mexico."It's disrespectful to do it on Cinco de Mayo," said Jessica Cortez, a Live Oak sophomore. "They can be a patriot on some other day. Not that specific day."
Live Oak parent Greg Hall saw the band of Hispanic students walking down Monterey Road Thursday.
"The fact that these four kids were singled out for wearing American colors is utterly ridiculous," he said. "I think the assistant principal and principal should be fired. The (protesting) students should be disciplined - suspended or expelled."
Hispanic students felt students wearing American flags were disrespecting the Mexican-American students on Cinco de Mayo - a day on which they celebrate their Mexican heritage.
Students who sported red, white and blue said denying them the right to wear American colors is a violation of the First Amendment.
While Live Oak administrators were silent on the issue, Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Wes Smith said that the district "does not prohibit nor do we discourage wearing patriotic clothing."
In a statement, Smith wrote:
"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."
Will the 200 students who walked out of class get unexcused absences, or will their truancy be excused as a display of cultural pride?
Furthermore, Cinco de Mayo is not even a holiday in Mexico.