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Calif. high school wins round in battle over ban on U.S. flag shirts

Feb. 27, 2014 at 11:56 PM

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court said Thursday it would not "second guess" officials at a California high school who banned American-flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.

The three-judge panel unanimously ruled for the Morgan Hill Unified School District in the South Bay area near San Francisco, and against a group of parents who said their children's rights were violated, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Students who came to Live Oak High School on the day of its Cinco de Mayo celebration in 2010 wearing shirts bearing the U.S. flag were asked to either turn them inside out or go home for the day.

School administrators said they were concerned because of a past history of trouble between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students, often exacerbated on Cinco de Mayo. The holiday is regarded in the United States as a celebration of Mexican-American identity and in the Mexican state of Puebla as a commemoration of the 1862 Battle of Puebla.

"Our role is not to second-guess the decision to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration or the precautions put in place to avoid violence," Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the court, upholding a lower court ruling.

William Becker, a lawyer for the parents, said he will ask the 9th Circuit for a hearing by all 11 judges. Parents have said they will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that schools can infringe on students' free speech rights when it is reasonably necessary to maintain order.

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