Denair, CA – Today Liberty Counsel sent a letter to school officials demanding that a middle school student be allowed to return an American flag to the back of his bicycle. Cody Alicea, a 13-year-old, proudly flies the American flag on the back of his bike. He does this to honor veterans, namely his grandfather, who served our country. On Veterans’ day this week, school officials at the Denair Middle School prohibited Alicea from bringing his bike onto school grounds as long as it had an American flag. He was told that others had complained about the flag and were offended by it. Under protest, he now is removing the flag and storing it in his backpack while at school.
Superintendent Parraz expressed fear that students might bring flags of the United States and Mexico to school, and he attempts to justifying this decision as a way to avoid tension in the district. However, the district schools fly the American flag on flagpoles outside of their buildings and inside classrooms throughout the district. Parraz even claims the decision is consistent with the U.S. Constitution.
This decision violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In Tinker v. Des Moines Ind. Sch. Dist., the Supreme Court protected the free speech rights of students on public school campuses. This potential for offense cannot provide justification for banning Cody from displaying the American flag in support of his country and its war veterans. Students have the right to wear printed words or symbols on their clothing and display them on their vehicles while on school property. Students=expression in this manner may only be limited if it materially and substantially interferes with or materially disrupts the ordinary operation of the school, not because the symbols or messages offend administrators or fellow students.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “Liberty Counsel calls on school officials at Denair Middle School to rescind their nonsensical policy and to allow Cody Alicea to fly the American flag. The flag should be in every classroom. It is absurd to ban students from displaying the flag, especially on Veterans’ Day.”