FREE SPEECH — The parents of three of the four boys who were sent home from Live Oak
High School for wearing shirts depicting the American Flag on Cinco de Mayo filed a lawsuit today against the Morgan
Hill Unified School District, Principal Nick Boden and Assistant
Principal Miguel Rodriguez for violating their First and Fourteenth
Amendment rights, reports Lindsay Bryant in the Morgan Hill Times.
"The families are hoping to have their
Constitutional rights vindicated," their attorney William J. Becker Jr.
said Wednesday by phone.
The lawsuit, Dariano v. Morgan Hill
Unified School District, is a symbolic suit and is not seeking monetary
damages or an apology. It's whether or not Live Oak or any other school
in the United States recognizes their duty to not infringe on students'
First Amendment rights, Becker said.
John and Dianna Dariano,
parents of Matt Dariano, Kurt and Julie Ann Fagerstrom, parents of
Dominic Maciel, and Kendall and Joy Jones on behalf of Daniel Galli were
named as the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They are represented by the
Becker Law Firm in Los Angeles and the Thomas More Law Center in Ann
Arbor, Mich. The Thomas More Law Center is also litigating a similar
case of discrimination on behalf of a Merced sixth-grade girl who was
ordered by school officials to remover her pro-life T-shirt.
four students were told by Boden and Rodriguez they could wear their
American flag T-shirts on any other day other than Cinco de Mayo. Live
Oak maintains it was attempting to quell any violence among Hispanic
students and on May 5, Rodriguez called the boys' dress "incendiary."
students that day wore red, white and green in favor of their pride for
the Mexican holiday, which marks the Mexican army's victory over the
French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
pushed Live Oak and Morgan Hill into the national media spotlight. On
May 6, about 200 mostly Hispanic teens marched through Morgan Hill as a
sign of protest; on May 7, the school district issued an apology and
Superintendent Wes Smith said he did not agree with the decision made;
on May 8, more than 100 Tea Party members rallied in downtown to support
the four students who also attended; and on May 11, several hundred
locals and many media outlets covered the school board meeting that
addressed the May 5 event.
The plaintiffs also seek compensation
for their attorney's fees and expenses and the cost of litigation from