MORGAN HILL (KCBS) —A single American flag flies in front of Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill on an average school day, but there may be more than 50 on Monday as a group of Tea Party activists plans to protest the school’s 2010 decision to send students home for wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo.
The Gilroy-Morgan Hill Patriots have planned for a Cinco de Mayo U.S. Flag Rally in protest of the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling siding with the school district over the decision. The court ruled earlier this year that officials at Live Oak High School were justified in sending students home in order to keep a safe-school environment. The school had a history of tension between white and Latino students, and administrators feared at the time that the shirts would inflame those feelings.
At a recent school board meeting, a number of speakers from the Latino community urged that the rally be held elsewhere, but Georgine Scott-Codiga, president of the Gilroy-Morgan Hill Patriots, said the rally will be “peaceful” and that she doesn’t understand the outrage.
“We’re not trying to be divisive of anything; it has nothing to do whatsoever with Cinco De Mayo. The issue here is a freedom-of-speech issue,” she told the board.
In February, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a 2011 federal judge’s ruling affirming that Live Oak High School officials acted properly when they asked four former students to remove or turn inside-out their American flag T-shirts on the 2010 Cinco de Mayo holiday. The boys were sent home after refusing to do so.
Conservative radio host Jimmy Z has broadcast the plan nationwide.
“I think there’s an outside chance that a thousand people could show up,” he said.
An attorney for the school says there have been general threats made online in advance of the rally and potential counter-protest.
Former principal Nick Boden and former assistant principal Miguel Rodriguez, who no longer work for the district, said they were concerned about the potential for violence on campus.
Their decision to send sparked a media firestorm nationwide on a debate on First Amendment rights as the story went viral on conservative media outlets like Fox News and the Drudge Report.
Police will have a contingency plan in place, including extra officers in on overtime and mutual aid from nearby cities on Monday.
Students at the school say the racial tension is a thing of the past.