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Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
767 F.3d 764 (2014)


Facts

Live Oak High School (the school) had a Cinco de Mayo celebration on May 5 each year. Unfortunately, the school had a history of violence among students, including gang violence and race-based attacks. In 2009, an altercation between a group of Caucasian students and a group of Mexican students occurred during the Cinco de Mayo celebration. The Caucasian students had put up an American flag on campus. One student, M.D. (plaintiff), wore American flag clothing that day and was involved in another altercation with a Mexican student. The following year, another group of Caucasian students wore American flag clothing on Cinco de Mayo. This group included M.D., D.G., and D.M. (plaintiffs). Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez (defendant) was notified of safety concerns for the plaintiffs by several groups of students. Rodriguez met with the plaintiffs and disclosed his concern for their safety. One of the plaintiffs and another student were wearing less prominent American flag imagery and were allowed to return to class. School officials determined that the plaintiff and the other student were less likely to be singled out and targeted based on their clothing. The other plaintiffs wearing flag apparel were required to either turn their shirts inside out or go home for the day as an excused absence. The plaintiffs decided to go home. The plaintiffs were subsequently threatened and decided to stay home the following school day as well. The plaintiffs sued the Morgan Hill Unified School District (defendant) and Rodriguez, alleging a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The trial court granted summary judgment to Rodriguez and denied summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ claims. The plaintiffs appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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Holding and Reasoning (McKeown, J.)

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