Students in Whittier, Calif., area protested immigration bill with flag raising (Courtesy Whittier Daily News)

A high school in Southern California punished a student for involvement in a protest in which a Mexican flag was flown above an upside-down U.S. flag.

The incident took place Monday at Montebello High School in Montebello, Calif., when students walked out of classes at area schools in protest of a proposed federal immigration bill, the Whittier Daily News reported.

The House has passed a bill to tighten border security, but President Bush broadly supports rival legislation being debated in the Senate that contains a guest-worker proposal.

The unnamed student was from El Rancho High School, about four miles east of Montebello.

El Rancho Unified School District officials gave no details because of legal and privacy issues, except to say the punishment was consistent with the California Education Code.

Montebello Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Robert G. Henke said officials “appreciate the diligence that the district has taken in identifying the student who allegedly committed the infraction with the flagpole incident.”

The image of a flipped American flag beneath the banner of Mexico prompted outrage nationwide.

The protest began when about 1,000 students from the El Rancho and Whittier Union High school districts marched through the town of Pico Rivera to Montebello High.

At the Montebello school, students had boycotted classes in the previous week in protest of the legislation. The campus was on lockdown by the time the protest marchers arrived, the Daily News said.

Henke said that’s when protesters raised the Mexican flag, turned the U.S. flag upside down and stole the California flag.

While police warn of $165 fines for any protesters, El Rancho officials have scheduled an after-school forum today where students will be “encouraged to air their concerns and opinions in a safe, structured, well-supervised environment.”

The district officials said, “For the next several weeks, as the pending legislation works its way through Congress, the situation will be closely monitored by district personnel.”

Faculty in the Montebello Unified and Whittier Union High school districts are being encouraged by officials to teach students positive ways of expressing their opinions.

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