Cinco de Mayo Protests Planned Outside Morgan Hill High School at Center of American Flag T-Shirt Flap

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A peaceful protest is planned on Cinco de Mayo in front of Live Oak High School. Marianne Favro reports. (Published Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014)

    It's been four years since some students in the South Bay went to school on Cinco de Mayo wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the American flag.

    What happened to them is still stirring up debate over free speech in Morgan Hill: The Four Live Oak High School students were asked to remove or turn inside out the American flag t-shirts they wore to school.

    Administrators feared the American flag shirts would enflame the passions of students celebrating the holiday back in 2010.

    The student protests that followed drew national attention.

    Now, Live Oak is in the news again. The Morgan Hill Unified School District is concerned because there could be as many as three different protest groups voicing their opinions in front of Live Oak High School on May 5, 2014, which is why the district is already talking to Morgan Hill police about how to keep students safe.

    Last month, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge’s ruling that school officials acted appropriately, a decision Georgine Scott-Codiga, the president of the Gilroy-Morgan Hill Patriots Club, strongly disagrees with.

    “We are shocked they are silencing one group over another under the 1st Amendment,” Scott-Codiga said. “We all have freedom of speech.”

    Scott-Codiga says that’s one reason she and as many as 50 members of her group plan to protest in front of Live Oak High School this Cinco de Mayo.

    “We are planning a flag rally to exercise free speech and show our support for the boys denied freedom of speech,” Scott-Codiga said.

    She says her group is planning a peaceful protest outside the school that will not disrupt classes.

    There is concern that counter-protesters may also show up and tensions could flare.

    The Morgan Hill school district is preparing for possible confrontations and plans to beef up security on May 5.

    “We’ve had several meetings with police and city officials to prepare, and we are talking with the leader of the rallies,” district Superintendent Steve Betando said.

    Betando said the No. 1 goal is to keep students safe. He said they may even learn a lesson about acceptance.

    “The students can wear whatever shirts they want that day,” he said.