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Schools Ban Patriotic Clothes, Flags

NBC | April 6 2006

SAN DIEGO -- In the wake of last week's immigration-reform protests, one school district is taking drastic measures, banning all symbols of patriotism, both U.S. and Mexican.

Beginning Monday, the Oceanside Unified School District is banning all flags and patriotic clothing. According to school officials, some students are using the garments and flags to taunt classmates.

Some critics of the move are calling it a violation of free speech protections guaranteed by the Constitution.

The American Civil Liberties Union points to the landmark Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines. In that case, school officials attempted to stop students who were protesting the Viet Nam War from wearing black armbands.

"The school has to be able to show a strong likelihood that there is going to material and substantial disruption of school, and if they don’t meet that standard, then they can't censor student speech," said Kevin Neenan of the ACLU.

School officials in Oceanside now say that flags -- whether they are U.S. or Mexican or any other country's -- have now become a divider on campuses, saying that some students are using them to taunt other students

Keith Brentlinger displays the U.S. flag outside Hatter, Williams and Purdy, his Oceanside business.

"To me, it's everything," said Brentlinger "I mean, like I said -- we truly live in the greatest country in the world."

Brentlinger said he was shocked on Tuesday when marching immigration-reform protesters tore down the flag outside his business.

"Some of them just grabbed the flag, and pulled it off its aluminum pole, and it got ripped," said Brentlinger.

Brentlinger told NBC 7/39 that he put up a new flag the next day.

"Some protesters drove up in their car and snagged the flag from our building and took off," said Brentlinger. "I was extremely, extremely upset. I mean, it was just ... insulting is the word."

School officials are saying that the ban is just temporary and that they were just trying to prevent violence. They would not say how long the ban would be in effect.

 

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