Students at Immokalee High School in Immokalee, Florida, said they arrived at school on Haitian Flag Day wearing T-shirts that displayed the flag and other images from Haitian culture and were sent home because of them, WBBH‑TV reported.
According to the Naples Daily News, school administrators said the shirts were against the district’s student code of conduct, which prohibits students from wearing or displaying all but four flags -- the U.S. flag, the POW-MIA flag, the state of Florida flag and official school flags -- on campus.
"As soon as we got off the bus, a teacher was, like, pointing at us," sophomore Jesola Pierre told WBBH.
“This is the day that we got our freedom. Why wouldn't I represent?" Cassidy Previlus, a sophomore at the school, told the Naples Daily News. She said more than a dozen students were sent home over the rules. “I felt discriminated. We weren’t allowed to wear our own shirts. I understand them taking bandanas, but a T-shirt?”
District spokesman Greg Turchetta told the Naples Daily News that in the past, students disrupted testing and classes by running down the hallways to celebrate the occasion.
“Last year, we had about 200 kids running down the hallways and blaring music,” he 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.”
According to the Naples Daily News, the code of conduct allows “national flags on special occasions,” but at the discretion of the school’s principal.
“My parents are from Haiti, and I was born in Haiti. I should get the right to celebrate,” student Jesula Pierre said. “I missed school and all my classes. I missed all of that for a shirt.”