Education

Students sent home for wearing Haitian flag shirts on Haitian Flag Day

Haitian flag.
Haitian flag.

It was Haitian Flag Day on Wednesday and that's apparently a big deal to Haitians — so big the Haitian Consulate in Miami closed for the day to commemorate the occasion.

But some students at Immokalee High in Collier County ran afoul of that school district's Student Code of Conduct when the donned shirts with Haitian flags on them.

The code of conduct states students are prohibited from wearing or displaying all but four flags, none of them the Haitian flag.

At least half a dozen students who wore the Haitian flag shirts to school were told to go home and change. When some of them refused, they were sent home, according to a report in the Naples Daily News.

"As soon as we got off the bus, a teacher was like pointing at us," sophomore Jesola Pierre told NBC 2. "This is the day that we got our freedom. Why wouldn't I represent?"

This happened even though officials at Immokalee High, which has a significant number of Haitian students, have in the past looked the other way when the students celebrated Flag Day by wearing the Haitian Flag.

So what changed this year?

Apparently the students celebrating Flag Day have in the past taken their celebration beyond simply wearing articles of clothing.

"Last year we had 200 kids running down the hallways and blaring music," school district spokesman Greg Turchetta told the Daily News. "There are [advanced placement] exams going on at the school. Obviously, it's imperative that there are no disruptions on campus today."

"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," sophomore Casidy Previlus told NBC 2.

The Student Code of Conduct says wearing or displaying the United States flag, the POW-MIA flag, the State of Florida flag and official school flags is acceptable policy.

The policy also stipulates wearing national flags from various countries is also allowed "on special occasions." The discretion for allowing the nationalistic wardrobe by students is given to each school's principal.

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