Students sent home from Florida high school for wearing Haitian flag shirts on Haitian Flag Day – New York Daily News

It was not a happy Haitian Flag Day at this Florida high school on Wednesday.
On the day commemorating the country’s banner adoption in 1803, at least six Immokalee High students were sent home for wearing Haitian flag shirts — and many others were told to take them off.
Students at Immokalee High were frustrated by the policy on Wednesday, upset they couldn’t show their national pride.
“My parents are from Haiti and I was born in Haiti. I should get the right to celebrate,” Jesula Pierre told the Naples Daily News. “I missed school and all my classes. I missed all of that for a shirt.”
The Collier County public school administration said it has nothing against the Haitian holiday, but does have a problem with the ruckus that comes with it.
“Last year, 200 students started singing and blaring music in the middle of lunch,” Greg Turchetta, the school district’s spokesman told the Daily News. “200 kids running through a school on a testing day is not a demonstration, it is a disruption. At the end of the day, we’re a learning institution.”
He defended the school’s decision, pointing out that the district’s code of conduct prohibited flags being worn on campus, because it’s “historically and currently caused dissension along with a potentially unsafe and hostile learning environment for our students,” according to the document.
The only exceptions to the rule are U.S., POW/MIA, Florida, official school flags, and special cases allowed by the principal.
“It’s not a racial issue, it’s a policy issue,” Turchetta said.
Haitian Flag Day also happened to fall on the same day as many crucial exams, with administrators looking to keep the hallways as quiet as possible.
“On Cinco de Mayo, they had all the tacos and we didn’t say nothing. But when it came to Haitian Flag Day, they wanted to take away our fun,” Cassidy Previlus told NBC2.
Immokalee High school principal Ken Fairbanks had reached out to students year after year asking for advance notice if they wanted a special celebration for Haitian Flag day, Turchetta told The News.
Turchetta said there was no issues with tacos on Cinco de Mayo because there is no policy spelled out in the code of conduct against food.
The school, where one in five student is Haitian, would have allowed for a small celebration if it was given advance notice, Turchetta claimed.
“No other group wears country flags at Immokalee High and has a celebration,” he said. “They have 200 people running around blaring music and screaming and yelling, we wouldn’t tolerate that on any given day.”


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