A California school has done a U-turn after it forced a student to remove an American flag attached to his bike, saying the Stars and Stripes could spur racial tensions on campus.
Cody Alicea,13, had been flying the flag on the back of his bicycle for almost two months to show support for veterans like his grandfather, Robert Alicea.
But just in time for Veterans Day, school officials at Denair Middle School told Cody he would no longer be allowed to display the flag, citing complaints from other students.
Now, after a public outcry, the school has decided that the grand old flag can come back.
Superintendent Edward Parraz says the school was trying to avoid racial tensions that stemmed from a "little issue" that arose when Hispanic students brought Mexican flags to school on Cinco De Mayo.
"That's when it all kind of started, and I think it carried through so that when Cody started doing his flag everybody said well why isn't he getting in trouble?" Parraz told Fox40.com.
So the school asked Cody to remove the flag, both to keep the peace and for his own protection.
"It was a safety concern that that particular campus supervisor called at that particular time based on information she had heard," Parraz said.
Cody says he complied with the request to avoid trouble, but he asked the school to reconsider because he believed the decision was wrong.
"I'm supposed to be free in this country and I should be able to fly the flag wherever I want to," he told Fox40.
Apparently, he wasn't alone.
Parraz says the school got flooded with so many complaints from upset parents both inside and outside of Denair that he was called into to "handle the situation."
"It was crazy" he said.
Parraz says the school decided on Friday to allow Cody to display his flag again, and now it will be shifting its focus to the students who complained.
"In no way did we want to take that right away from Cody," Parraz told Fox40 on Friday. "…We think we know who the instigators are that were trying to do that and we need to meet with their parents and those students to just kind of explain that this isn't what we want to have. We want to make sure that our kids can appreciate a safe environment and be able to have the American flag."