Who knew you could get kicked out of school due to the clothes you wear? On May 5, 2010, five students were sent home because they wore t-shirts with the American flag printed on them, which was offensive to the school’s Mexican-American population. But legally, a school cannot suspend students due to their clothing choices.
So what gives?
Daniel Galli and four of his friends wore t-shirts that had the American flag printed on them to school on Cinco de Mayo. During a break, the vice principal of Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California approached the boys and told them to turn their shirts inside out because the shirts were disrespectful of other students’ views. The boys refused and were sent to the principal’s office.
“They said we could wear it on any other day,” Daniel Galli said, “but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today.”
They said if we tried to go back to class with our shirts not taken off, they said it was defiance and we would get suspended,” said Dominic Maciel, another one of the boys involved.
Although what the boys were doing is disrespectful to their Mexican-American peers, their actions are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment. There have been several cases in recent years where students were asked to leave school due to their clothes, and when the cases were brought before a court, the students won. Students do not leave their civil rights at the schoolyard gate, as determined by the Supreme Court case Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District in 1969.
The Morgan Hill Unified School District understands this and issued a public statement:
“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 students were allowed to return to school the next day and will not be punished for expressing their views via their choice in clothes. For future reference though, maybe they should save everyone the trouble and hassle and just wear a solid red, white, or blue shirt on Cinco de Mayo next year, if they have to wear anything politically charged at all.
Via NBC Bay Area