Students Sent Home From School For Celebrating Haitian Flag Day
If you’re Haitian or know someone that’s Haitian you’ve probably come to the realization that there are two things that Haitians are serious about. Our soup joumou and Haitian Flag Day. This past Wednesday (May 18th), you can bet that many celebrated, however, for students at Immokalee High (Florida) their celebrations were halted. Upon arrival to their school’s campus decked out with their Haitian flag shirts they were told that they were not in line with the school district’s Student Code of Conduct which apparently does not allow students to wear or display all but four flags: the United States flag, the State of Florida flag, official school flags and the POW-MIA flag.
I graduated from a high school in a neighboring county and I don’t ever recall not being able to celebrate Haitian Flag Day on campus, one year we were even allowed to put on a special assembly during school hours in the auditorium for our peers. It seems that school officials at Immokalee High would look the other way usually, but that celebrations have gotten out of hand through the years, according to district spokesman Greg Turchetta:
“Last year we had 200 kids running down the hallways and blaring music,” Turchetta said. “There are assessments, (Advanced Placement) exams going on at the school. Obviously it’s imperative that there are no disruptions on that campus today.”
With about 200 students identifying with the cultural celebration wouldn’t it have been better for the school to join the ranks of other educational institutions through out the country that held school-sponsored Flag Day celebrations for their students and faculty members?
“The wearing or display of flags on our campuses has historically and currently caused dissension along with a potentially unsafe and hostile learning environment for our students,” the district’s Student Code of Conduct reads. The policy does allow for “national flags on special occasions” at the discretion of the school’s principal.
“As soon as we got off the bus, a teacher was like pointing at us,” sophomore Jesola Pierre told NBC 2.
Wouldn’t it have been better to forewarn students that “rambunctious” or “disruptive” behaviors would result in some form of disciplinary action? Rather than ambushing them right at the bus ramp? It seems this was planned by the school administration with full knowledge of the upcoming cultural holiday.