Posted on August 19, 2004

Denver School Will Replace Mexican Flags

Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, Aug. 18

DENVER — School officials here said yesterday they plan to replace two Mexican flags removed from a local high school this week after a public outcry about the issue dies down.

School staffers at North High School took down the Mexican flags on Tuesday after receiving threats from callers who said they would come to the school and tear down the flags themselves.

But Denver Public Schools spokeswoman Tanya Caughey said school officials planned to rehang the Mexican flags next to the U.S. flags once their safety concerns are eased.

“The principal does intend to put the flag back up once we’re sure our students are safe,” Mrs. Caughey said. “We’re respecting equality, human rights, human dignity and safety.”

The uproar came after the Rocky Mountain News ran a photograph showing students in a social-studies classroom with the Mexican and U.S. flags displayed vertically and hanging side by side.

Another Mexican flag hanging next to a U.S. flag in the school lobby as part of a wall display also was removed, although it wasn’t shown in the newspaper.

Mike Rosen, host of a popular talk show on KOA-AM radio, tackled the issue during his morning show yesterday and Tuesday, arguing that it was “inappropriate” to display a foreign flag alongside a U.S. flag in a public facility.

“The major issue is that in an American public school, no other country should have its flag displayed with equal prominence with the American flag,” Mr. Rosen said. “This is not a Mexican-American school. This is not a colony of Mexico — it’s part of Colorado, which is part of the United States.”

Most of his callers agreed, although one accused him of being a “racist.”

Mrs. Caughey said federal law allows U.S. flags to be displayed in public buildings next to foreign flags as long as the Stars and Stripes sits on the right.

“We’re following federal law,” she said.

About 84 percent of the high school’s enrollment is Hispanic, and 24 percent have limited English proficiency.

The social-studies teacher who hung the Mexican and U.S. flags also teaches English to Spanish-speakers. He told the News that he wanted his students, most of whom were born in Mexico, to feel welcome.