Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Mexican flag hung at Klein Collins High School
A high school sophomore in Texas says he has received a three-day suspension for taking down a Mexican flag that was hung in his school higher than the Stars and Stripes.
Nick Morris is a student at Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas, a northern suburb of Houston. On May 5, or Cinco de Mayo, the date many Mexicans in the U.S. commemorate a historical victory over the invading French army in 1862, Morris noticed a Mexican flag hung in the school’s main hallway.
According to his own admission before school authorities, Morris tore down the flag and, upon being unable to find its owner, threw it in the trash.
“I told them – I was just straight up with them – I said, ‘Yes, I did take down the flag,” Morris explained to radio host Michael Berry on AM 740 KTRH radio in Houston. “I told them it was flying in the middle of the hallway. I said, ‘That’s not right; you don’t fly a foreign flag inside a school.”
Now, Morris says, he’s been issued a three-day in-school suspension for his act and told to pay for replacement of the flag.
Morris also says that school administrators questioned what he “had against Cinco de Mayo” and that many of his schoolmates have labeled him as racist.
For Morris, however, his motivation wasn’t a disdain for Mexicans or the Mexican flag, but a defense of American patriotism.
“Cinco De Mayo is a great holiday,” Morris told the radio host. “I have no problem with red white and green everywhere; it’s student speech, it’s what America basically is. I said, ‘The only problem I did have is when you fly the flag of a neighboring country in a public school.’”
According to Houston’s KTRK-TV, Klein Independent School District Communications Director Trazana Halstead confirmed a Mexican flag was displayed inside the building, with permission, by a member of the school’s Spanish club as part of a Cinco de Mayo observance.
The school district also issued a statement on its website squashing some of the erroneous reports circulated online about the incident, namely that the Mexican flag was on a flagpole outside the school above an American flag flown upside down – all untrue.
“Neither the Klein Independent School District nor any of its campuses,” the statement insists, “has displayed another country or state’s flag in a manner that would dishonor or disrespect the American flag or the Texas state flag.”
But while Morris has also clarified the flag was merely hung in a hallway and not on a pole or over the American flag, he does contend the Mexican flag was displayed disrespectfully, since it was posted higher than the Stars and Stripes.
“I told them it was higher than the American flag. I said there is one American flag in this building; it’s lower than the Mexican flag,” Morris said in his radio interview. “I took a tape measure and measured; that flag was 4 feet higher than [both] the American and Texas flag.”
After airing Morris’ interview, Berry has not only suggested audiences contact the school’s assistant principal handling the case, Mr. Shellie Dick, but has also offered to cover the cost of replacing the flag.
In addition to his three-day suspension, Morris says, his school year will also be extended by up to a week for rescheduling finals due to the incident. The school itself has refused to comment on any matter pertaining to student discipline.
WND earlier reported on another Cinco de Mayo flag clash, when five students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Calif., were reportedly threatened with suspension for wearing American flag T-shirts instead of “fostering a spirit of cultural awareness” on the Mexican holiday.
School administrators instructed the teens to turn their American flag T-shirts inside-out or they would be sent home. Student Dominic Maciel told NBC the boys were told they would be suspended if they returned to their classes wearing the T-shirts.
The teens, however, refused to turn their T-shirts inside-out because they said it was disrespectful, so their parents took them home.