Update: MHUSD wins lawsuit over Cinco de Mayo T-shirt incident

Live Oak High School students from left, Daniel Galli, Austin

A decision was reached in favor of the Morgan Hill Unified School District and administrators in the civil rights lawsuit against the district and two former Live Oak High School administrators over the American T-shirt controversy from Cinco de Mayo 2010, said Alyson Cabrera, the lawyer representing MHUSD and former Principal Nick Boden and former Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez. The decision was reached Tuesday afternoon.
A decision was reached in favor of the Morgan Hill Unified School District and administrators in the civil rights lawsuit against the district and two former Live Oak High School administrators over the American T-shirt controversy from Cinco de Mayo 2010, said Alyson Cabrera, the lawyer representing MHUSD and former Principal Nick Boden and former Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez. The decision was reached Tuesday afternoon.

Plaintiffs Dianna and John Dariano, parents of Matt Dariano; Kurt and Julie Ann Fagerstrom, parents of Dominic Maciel; and Kendall and Joy Jones on behalf of Daniel Galli filed the lawsuit against the school district alleging violations against their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights after their children wore American-themed T-shirts to Live Oak and were sent home after refusing to remove the shirts and apparel after Boden and Rodriguez were concerned about the potential for violence on campus. The fourth student, Austin Carvalho or his parents, did not file a lawsuit.

The lawsuit sought nominal damages including changing school policies to clearly state students’ rights and protections under the Bill of Rights and reimbursing lawyer fees and expenses for the cost of litigation.

The United States District court dismissed all claims against MHUSD. The case against Rodriguez was also dismissed. This ends litigation before the district court, although the plaintiffs do have the right to appeal through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Because Boden filed for bankruptcy, all proceedings against Boden are stayed as a matter of law, meaning an order could not be entered. His case now under the jurisdiction of the federal court.

The four students were told by Boden and Rodriguez on May 5, 2010 they could wear their American flag T-shirts on any other day other than Cinco de Mayo. After Rodriguez called the students into their office, Boden let two of the original five students return to class, including Dariano. The other two students were told to either turn their shirts inside out, or go home for the day as an excused absence. The two, Dominic Maciel and Daniel Galli left school for the day. Dianna Dariano chose to remove her son Matt for the rest of the day, although he had been allowed to return to class.

Other students that day May 5, 2010, wore red, white and green in favor of their pride for the Mexican holiday.

Timeline following the Cinco de Mayo 2010 T-shirt incident

The incident pushed Live Oak and Morgan Hill into the national media spotlight back in 2010.

May 6: 200 mostly Hispanic teens marched through Morgan Hill as a sign of protest.

May 7: the school district issued an apology and Superintendent Wes Smith said he did not agree with the decision made by Live Oak school administrators.

May 8: More than 100 Tea Party members rallied in downtown Morgan Hill ti support the four students, who also attended the event.

May 11: Several hundred locals and many media outlets covered the MHUSD school board meeting that addressed the May 5 event.

June 23: Parents of the four boys who were sent home filed a lawsuit against the school district and Boden and Rodriguez.

Jan. 3, 2011: MHUSD asks court to dismiss MHUSD from the lawsuit, as the district maintained that it does not prohibit patriotic clothing and Boden is no longer employed by the district.

 

Leave your comments