Wrong Live Oak: Angry calls, e-mails continue to flood local district
Posted: 05/07/2010 05:34:01 PM PDT
Updated: 05/07/2010 05:34:29 PM PDT
By Megha Satyanarayana
LIVE OAK - The case of mistaken identity continues for Live Oak School District in Santa Cruz County.
For the past two days, the district office has fielded dozens of harassing and sometimes threatening messages intended for Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill.
On Wednesday, Live Oak High School was the site of a Cinco de Mayo dustup in which students were singled out for wearing red, white and blue clothing on a day when students were celebrating Mexican heritage.
Fielding the misdirected anger has taken its toll on the Live Oak School District office, said superintendent Tamra Taylor.
"Every time I'd open my e-mail, there would be another message," she said. She's fielded complaints from Alaska to New Jersey, but also from locals. Live Oak Elementary School has fielded complaints, as have board members. She said she's been shocked and saddened by the content of the messages, often accusatory, profane or litigious.
"I had no idea people were hating at this level," she said.
In Morgan Hill, four students came to school on Wednesday wearing American flag-themed clothing. An assistant principal reportedly told the students, some of whom claim partial Latino heritage, to turn their clothes inside out, fearing it would instigate other students. Two of the boys went home in protest and two reportedly did not.
In a statement, the Morgan Hill Unified School District
said the incident was not intended to condemn patriotic action, and that it would be investigated. The incident has ignited debate, drawing Live Oak High School, and by virtue of its shared name, the Live Oak School District, into the national immigration spotlight.
The Morgan Hill incident has caused further trouble for the Live Oak School District, which now faces scrutiny for its efforts to educate its large Latino population, mostly in grades K-8 and at a charter high school. People who stumble on their website by mistake, because it appears at the top of most Google searches, have lingered, sifting through public documents and railing against what they don't like in messages to Taylor.
She is concerned for her Latino students.
"I knew there was racism, but I didn't know it was so bad," she said of the national onslaught of misdirected messaging. "It's this world with people who are not seeing them as legitimate members of society."
The San Jose Mercury News contributed to this report.
California Principal Apologizes for Forbidding U.S. Flag Shirts on Mexican Holiday
A California high school principal has apologized for telling five students they couldn't wear U.S. flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo, the local superintendent said Friday.
Smith affirmed that students are free to wear patriotic clothing on campus, but the campus also must be kept "orderly and safe."
"School leaders have to make judgment calls on when to take preventative measures to pre-empt a possible incident or conflict," Smith said. "In this situation, it appears that a decision was made too quickly."
Superintendent Smith described freedom of expression as "a sacred American value" and said the lesson learned is that it should be celebrated "thoughtfully and fairly."
"It is unfortunate that some people want to leverage their personal agendas off of this incident," Smith said, noting the national media attention on the school.
"Most of the kids on our campus have said, 'Enough is enough.' they want to get back to normal."