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Five students at a California high school were forced to leave school and then face disciplinary action yesterday for the crime of wearing clothing printed with American flag designs.

If you’re wondering how being patriotic could possibly merit punishment, it’s because the kids displayed the American flags on May 5. And as everyone knows, American flags are absolutely verboten on May 5.

Right? Doesn’t anybody remember that rule? Anybody? Bueller?

According to local TV stations KTVU and NBC Bay Area, this bewildering and deeply unsettling incident happened at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, a suburban town south of San Jose. As KTVU reported,

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.

Photo courtesy of The Morgan Hill Times

Make sure to watch the video at the KTVU link, because it shows clearly that the kids were not troublemakers, not “racists,” and not looking to start a fight. One of the five kids, Dominic Maciel, was himself of Hispanic heritage.

And the punishment wasn’t an off-the-cuff blunder by some inexperienced teacher; according to NBC,

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the Vice Principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag t-shirts inside-out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal‘s office.

“They said we could wear it on any other day, but today is sensitive to Mexican Americans because it’s supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today,” Daniel Galli said.

The boys said the administrators called their t-shirts “incendiary” that would lead to fights on campus.

“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,” Dominic Maciel, Galli’s friend, said.

So here we have the Principal and the Vice-Principal of an American high school treating the Stars and Stripes as if it was a gang bandanna; even worse, the school administrators took sides in this imaginary US-vs.-Mexico gang fight by allowing the widespread display of Mexican flags on campus but banning (under threat of punishment) any display of the American flag.

NBC quotes a fellow student:

“I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day,” Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said. “We don’t deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn’t do that on Fourth of July.”

Disrespected? I’m confused. Aren’t all the students Americans? Who is being disrespected by the display of our shared national flag?

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