About 200 people gathered at a school auditorium in Morgan Hill Tuesday night, a week after five Live Oak High School boys were sent home from school because they wore American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo. The meeting was aimed at relieving some of the tension that has been building since the incident.
Emotions ran high inside the auditorium, as parents debated over over the flag, freedom of expression and racial tension. There was no shortage of American flags in the crowd as some carried them in and others wore clothing bearing the flag.
Some came to defend the flag, like Jeanine Croft, who stood at the podium and said, "This is America. America's flag is first and you all should be proud of your heritage. Nobody is here that didn't come from someplace else."
Tony Avila made his point by wearing his own American flag shirt.
"This is a flag, children, young people. This is America." Avila said. "We should all be proud, no matter what your heritage is, we're all together in this."
But others pointed out the issue is much greater, "It's always been Hispanics versus Caucasians." Live Oak student Teresa Corona said. "It's been like that in our history. We cannot sugarcoat this. We cannot hide it ... this is a problem, we should stop it now."
The emotional debate went back-and-forth with some defending the actions of the vice principal who sent the kids home and others calling for his resignation. The Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Wesley Smith has disagreed with the school administrator's decision from the beginning and made it clear the boys did nothing wrong.
"Regardless of what they were trying to do, and I don't know what they were trying to do," Smith said, "they have the right to wear those shirts on school campus -- on all of our campuses and they shouldn't have been asked to take them off."
Smith says he would like to meet with the students on a more frequent basis and come up with a plan to prevent what happened last week from happening again.
A parent of one of the boys involved in the flag flap said after the meeting that they are talking to an attorney but have not yet decided whether to take legal action.