The widely celebrated Haitian Flag Day – meant to commemorate the culture and heritage of the Haitian people – brought about some arguably unwarranted controversy to Immokalee High in Collier County, Florida.
A bevy of Haitian students are said to have disregarded the school district’s Student Code of Conduct when they arrived sporting shirts emblazoned with Haitian flags. Said code of conduct states students are prohibited from wearing or displaying all but four flags: the United States flag, the POW-MIA flag, the State of Florida flag and official school flags.
The Miami Herald reports: “At least half a dozen students who wore the Haitian flag shirts to school were told to go home and change. When some of them refused, they were sent home, according to a report in the Naples Daily News.” As soon as we got off the bus, a teacher was like pointing at us,” sophomore Jesola Pierre told NBC 2. “This is the day that we got our freedom. Why wouldn’t I represent?” This happened even though officials at Immokalee High, which has a significant number of Haitian students, have in the past looked the other way when the students celebrated Flag Day by wearing the Haitian Flag.”
Yet the policy indicates wearing national flags from various countries is also allowed “on special occasions.” Each school’s principal in the county is allowed to exercise that portion of the policy at their discretion, which in this case, could raise concerns about anti-black or anti-Haitian sentiments.