Friday, May 7, 2010

Siete de Mayo

Two days after Cinco de Mayo, we know that not only did the principal and assistant principal at Live Oak High School mishandle the situation, but that the Morgan Hill Unified School District continues to do so.

Instead of minimizing the risk of violent confrontation, the tension has been rising, but is still well short of an explosion.

200 Mexican American students skipped class on Thursday and exercised their First Amendment rights by marching to the School District headquarters, demanding respect and chanting “Si, se puede,””Yes, we can.” At least six police vehicles escorted the marchers, many of whom carried Mexican flags.

A peaceful protest is part of the American Way. Vaya con Dios.

And yet, by Friday two police officers were stationed at the school and the five American students may, or may not, have received threats by Mexican gangs.

Live Oak High School and the Morgan Hill School District have received national attention, much of which is highly negative. The Principal and Assistant Principal have been deluged with emails. They are receiving a vitriolic, American education on the American Flag. They are not publicly commenting, but the Principal issued a public apology.

Lawyers have been volunteering to represent the American students if they choose to sue to vindicate their constitutional rights. The Morgan Hill School District does not need lawyers parachuting in.

Superintendent of Schools Wesley Smith sent a message in English and Spanish to parents late Thursday. It reads like educationese, starting with a negative rather than positive message, which can only reinforce the negative impressions of the District: “The Morgan Hill School District does not prohibit nor do we discourage patriotic clothing.

Only later in the statement does the Superintendent state: “Students should not, and will not be disciplined for wearing patriotic clothing,” followed by a review of the situation and the handling of it.

Why not a simple statement that students are free to wear the patriotic colors of their choice?

Superintendent Smith at a Friday press conference finally acknowledged freedom of expression as “a sacred American value” with the lesson learnt is that it be celebrated “thoughtfully and fairly.”

He must have been getting an earful of First Amendment Freedom of Expression.

Maybe these two weekend days will bring peace.

Certainly, The Morgan Hill Unified School District and Live Oak High School did not need this Andy Warhol, 15 minutes of fame.

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