Some parents of students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill are keeping their kids home from school after tension related to an incident involving students wearing American flag clothing on Cinco de Mayo spilled out onto the streets.
The students wore T-shirts depicting the flag to school on Wednesday. Administrators told the boys the clothes could be "incendiary" and asked them turn the shirts inside-out or face suspension. The boys refused so they were sent home.
The controversy quickly spread over the Internet and became national news.
Now, the school district is sending a message to parents about the heated issue, assuring them that students will not be suspended, and that students are allowed to wear patriotic clothing.
The message was delivered from Superintendent Wesley Smith through both a letter and a voicemail. Here is the full text:
Good evening. This is Dr. Wesley Smith, Superintendent of the Morgan Hill Unified School District. The Morgan Hill Unified School District does not prohibit nor do we discourage wearing patriotic clothing. 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 situation and our response are under review.
We know that this is an emotionally charged topic. We would ask you to encourage your students to be safe and focus on their academics while in school. If conversations and/or activities are necessary to express their feelings on this issue, we will find appropriate venues that do not disturb student learning or jeopardize the safety of our students. Furthermore, we encourage everyone to demonstrate respect for each other, open communication, and responsibility.
Thank you for your support and understanding.
Dr. Wesley Smith
On Thursday, about 200 Mexican-American students walked out of class in protest of the flag clothing incident. Members of the group waved the Mexican flag and said they were marching for respect and unity. They also demanded the school suspend the boys who wore the U.S. flag-adorned clothing.
As a result of this heated debate, other Bay Area schools by the name of Live Oak have been threatened. The Live Oak School District in Santa Cruz County has received several calls from people angry about the issue, even though they are in no way involved in the Morgan Hill school's issue. That district's superintendent believes it's just a same-name misunderstanding and lack of clarity in reporting the school's location.
Administrators at Live Oak High School in Sutter County say they've also recieved violent threats. The sheriff there is concerned that a person who threatened to shoot up the school or plant a bomb may follow through.
The story has sparked an outcry from groups and individuals across the country, including a high school student in Yorktown, Va., who created a Facebook page titled "I support the 5 students from Morgan Hill high school." As of Friday morning, the fast-growing group had more than 1,850 members.