For one northern California high school Cinco de Mayo didn’t pass quietly as five students were threatened with disciplinary action for wearing American flag t-shirts to school.
Five students at a South Bay high school stirred up some controversy Wednesday for wearing t-shirts depicting red, white and blue American flags on Cinco de Mayo.
School officials at Live Oak High in Morgan Hill told the students they had to go home if they wouldn’t turn the shirts inside out.
One of the students said it appeared school administrators were worried the patriotic shirts could trigger fights.
Some students at Live Oak High in Morgan Hill said others were planning to come to school Thursday wearing red, white and blue.
Four of the five students who wore American flags or patriotic colors on campus walked into a meeting with the superintendent of the Morgan Hill unified school district Wednesday night.
They were facing unexcused absences because they chose to go home early rather than take off what they were wearing.
“We knew it was Cinco de Mayo. But we just came to show our flag,” said student Dominic Maciel. “We didn’t mean anything by it. We didn’t want to start anything. Nothing like that.”
Student Anthony Caravalho was also sent home for not turning his shirt inside out.
“They said we had to wear our t-shirts inside out and then we could go back to class and we said no,” said Caravalho. “It would be disrespectful to the flag by hiding it.”
Daniel Galli, another student who was reprimanded for wearing a US flag, described what he was told by school administration.
“He said ‘If you wear it on any other day, it’s fine; but just because it’s today you can’t wear it,’” Galli said. “His exact words.”
Galli said he was told it was inappropriate to wear the shirt because “it’s supposed to be a Mexican Day and we were supposed to honor them.”
The boys said it was unfair because some students were wearing Mexican colors Wednesday.
“We’re not mad that they wore their stuff,” said student Galli. “But we’re mad that we were asked to change our stuff, but they could still wear their stuff.”
Caravalho also felt the action was unfair.
“I would have taken my stuff off if they had taken their stuff off too,” he said.
Some Mexican-American students KTVU spoke with said they thought wearing red, white and blue on Cinco de Mayo was disrespectful.
“It’s just kinda disrespectful that they would do that on this day,” said student Victoria Wright. “I mean, we don’t go around on 4th of July wearing red white and green and saying ‘Viva Mexico,’ because that’s disrespectful.”
One student showed us a Mexican flag belt buckle he wore Wednesday. He disagreed with the way the American flag-wearing kids were treated.
“I think it was kind of going overboard with the suspension, but it’s also kind of disrespectful because it’s our day,” said student Sal Orona.
Dominic Maciel said his father is of Mexican descent.
“I have no problem with them wearing their Mexican stuff, their Mexican flags,” said Maciel. “I just thought I’d show my pride. American pride.”
The school district Wednesday issued a statement which read: “The district does not concur with the Live Oak High School administration’s interpretation of either board or district policy related to these actions.”
Watch the video report on the station website.
The school administrators involved in this action are in need of a history lesson along with some of the students based on the comments in the article. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day as it widely thought but actually commemorates the Mexican militia’s victory over the French army in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. According to MexOnline it is largely a regional holiday. The actual Mexican Independence Day is is September 16th.
The students deserve an apology from the school for their heavy handed and wrong actions and should be required to attend sensitivity training before they offend any more Americans and be reminded that the school is in California which is in the U.S. and not Mexico and that wearing the flag should be just fine every day of the week.