Students Suspended For Wearing Flags, Supporting USMC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 6, 2006 Shaw Heights Middle School Ends Neutral Dress Code Westminster, CO – Due to the exemplary behavior of the students at Shaw Heights Middle School and the progress made throughout the week, as well as Attorney General John Suthers news release regarding the display of flags in schools, Myla Shepherd, Shaw Heights Middle School principal has announced that the neutral dress code will end effective Friday, April 7, 2006 at 8:00 a.m.The suspended students should be reinstated without penalty to their grades for the day they were absent. Kudos to the students for sticking up for their rights in the face of an overreaching and illegally acting school administration.
Wearing this. . .
. . .or this. . .
. . .will get you suspended at one Colorado middle school.
A rally to support the suspended students will take place tomorrow Friday April 7th at 8:00am at Shaw Heights Middle School. More info here.
The students suspended today were found in violation of the school's new dress code policy, which bans flags, camouflage, and any other "patriotic" clothing (video):
DENVER -- Several students at Shaw Heights Middle School have been disciplined for wearing shirts that depict the American flag, an act that is in direct violation of the public school's recent ban on all flags, depictions of flags, or flag colors on student clothing.Fortunately for both the students and for flag-wavers everywhere, Colorado law does not support the administration's dress ban, specifically on flags:
One student said he was suspended for wearing a DARE program shirt with a flag behind the logo. Another student said she was sent home for wearing a Marine Corps shirt.
Elizabeth Haas, told reporters that she was told to turn her Marine Corps shirt inside out and when she did and then turned it back the right way, she was suspended. Haas, an 11-year-old sixth grader, said that she wears a USMC shirt every day to support her brother, who is in the Corps, and she wasn't aware of the ban until she was suspended.
All of the students who were suspended said they had a connection to the military -- either they have a family member now serving or someone in the family had once served. They said despite the school ban, and even if it means another suspension, they will continue to wear their shirts.
Because of this divisive issue, Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers requested that a copy of Colorado Revised Statute 27-2-108.5, concerning the proper and legal display of the flag of the United States, be sent to all Colorado superintendents.
"The statute is clear," said Suthers. "No Colorado school has the authority to prohibit students from reasonably displaying the flag of the United States on their person or property. While schools can and should act to prevent conduct by students that interferes with the education process, their remedy must be narrowly tailored and cannot include a general ban on displaying the American flag."
C.R.S. 27-2-108.5 reads, "The right to display reasonably the flag of the United States shall not be infringed with respect to the display: (a) On an individual's person; (b) Anywhere on an individual's personal or real property."
"I understand that they're trying to deal with rising tensions and I appreciate that, but they're going to have to find a way to do it without banning, in particular, the American flag," Suthers told 7NEWS.
The ACLU, in typical fashion, says that such a protection for the American flag amounts to "viewpoint discrimination" and is unconstitutional:
"The Colorado statute, however, applies only to American flags, which raises another constitutional issue. The Constitution prohibits what the case law calls 'viewpoint discrimination.' This means that the government cannot silence one side of a debate while allowing speakers who favor an opposing viewpoint. Thus, to the extent that personal display of American or Mexican flags now symbolizes opposing views on the current national debate about immigration issues, the Colorado statute cannot constitutionally protect the right of students to display the American flag while allowing a school to ban the display of a different flag," said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado.Previous
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